"Covid-19 is climate change on warp speed" (Wagner, Mar.10, 2020). The current pandemic has catastrophic consequences on the hospitality sector. The ways the industry currently deals with the crisis (for example, see: COVID-19 - Survival Guide for the Hospitality Industry) offers a glimpse into the crisis management endeavors in building a business case for disaster and climate resiliency. Climate emergency is not dissimilar to the coronavirus threat, whereby 'both demand early aggressive action to minimize loss" (Cobb, Mar. 12, 2020). However, with hotel companies facing an existential crisis, or large-scale downsizing, what will be left of the sustainability programs and initiatives once this pandemic is overcome? Will we be starting from scratch or is the coronavirus crisis the opportunity to implement a swift change in risk assessment and management facing the climate crisis? What are the key lessons from the coronavirus crisis on how to deal with the climate emergency?

Jonathon Day
Jonathon Day
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

While “covid-19 may be climate change at warp speed” (Wagner, Mar.10, 2020), perhaps the most important thing is to remember that we've known about the risk of both climate change and a global pandemic for a long time. Both possible challenges seemed far off and hard to imagine. We had time to change, to respond, to prepare, and we didn't. Neither issue seemed possible... until it did. Let's hope that from the tragedy of Coronavirus, we learn that we must act before the worst of the climate crisis is upon us.

It is critical that we get our tourism and hospitality industry workers back on the job, our businesses operating, and our destinations welcoming visitors again soon. There will be a desire by many to rebuild our damaged industry as quickly as possible, recreating it the way it was. But just coming back the same isn't good enough. I have been encouraged by the chorus of voices calling to take time, during this unwanted time-out, to change tourism for the better. That won't be easy – particularly as we scramble to get back on our feet. Studies have shown that only a few small businesses come back from disaster better than they were before the event.  It is not easy to bounce back better. Yet – that is must be our goal. 

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