'Splendid isolation': Embracing islandness in a global pandemic

Karl Agius, Francesco Sindico, Giulia Sajeva, Godfrey Baldacchino

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Abstract

Islandness is often considered to be a disadvantage. However, it has helped the residents of islands to delay, deter, and, in some cases, totally insulate themselves from COVID-19. While islanders have been quick to lock themselves down, this has had a tremendous impact on their connectivity and on tourism, which in many cases is their major economic sector. Yet, the association of islands with being safe, “COVID-19 free” zones has helped these spaces to be among the first destinations to restart the tourism economy once travel restrictions were lifted. After several weeks of lockdown, and with the COVID-19 threat still looming, social distancing remained the norm. Travellers were thus eager to immerse themselves in island environments while avoiding crowds and seeking small accommodation facilities in less densely populated rural areas to limit the risks of infection — a package offered by several islands in the central Mediterranean. With many travellers opting to travel close to home, islands benefited from domestic tourism — a key market segment for islands in this region. Islands have thus performed relatively well in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and in restarting their economies; but the pandemic has also exposed challenges including a dangerous overreliance on tourism.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalIsland Studies Journal
Early online date28 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • coronavirus
  • economic recovery
  • islandness
  • tourism
  • remoteness
  • Mediterranean
  • islands

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