Mourning and hope in the Commonwealth, contemplation in the Muslim world

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Dear readers,

For once, the news last week were dominated by somebody dying from something else than the CoVID-19 infection. Prince Philip, a tireless traveller around the world for many decades, passed away shortly before reaching his 100th birthday. The husband of Queen Elisabeth II, who still rules over 16 of the Commonwealth countries in the world at least in name, was praised among other things as a very early example of a man, of royal ancestry to boot, serving the career of his wife and giving up his own name, religion, nationality and ambitions as an officer in the process.

Your humble editor vividly remembers his single encounter with the couple a decade ago in Scotland. After visiting the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, I was told that the royals would drive through the gate of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, just opposite the parliament building, in a few minutes. With more policemen than spectators around, it was easy to get a place in the front row and a good look when the limousine stopped less than a meter away, having to wait shortly for the gate to open. Queen and Prince consort looked eerily exactly similar to their likeness on the many cups and plates in the souvenir shop of the castle: hair, smile and posture so perfect in the afternoon of a day full of tiring duties that it made you wonder if these were holograms, avatars or actual people. Tourism is a lot about pretending and acceptance of pretention – these were perfect examples of how to become what you pretend to be.

With the period of mourning just beginning, it is of course too early to speak about it, but nevertheless, the burning question now all over the Commonwealth to ask is: Will she marry again?

Well, actually the minds in some important parts of the Commonwealth may be preoccupied with more positive developments: Australia and New Zealand have agreed to restart, after a pause of 13 months, on April 19th quarantine-free international travel between the two countries. For both, the neighbour is the biggest tourism source market after China, so this should be the first substantial number of airborne border crossings developing again and a sign of hope for the whole tourism industry, constituting the beginning of the post-pandemic period of global tourism.

Chinese outbound tourism has been and will be again the biggest international tourism source market in terms of trips and spending. However, for the travellers constituting the second-biggest source market, today is a special day: Ramadan is starting for 1.8 billion Muslims. Muslim travellers, engaging in Halal Tourism, spent altogether almost as much as the Chinese in 2019 for international travel. The month of Ramadan is not meant to be the time for unnecessary travel, but when it ends, the hope of many Muslims is that by that time the opportunities to travel will have increased.

Therefore, this week with condolences as well as with best wishes to all our readers, as always, from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI Weekly team.

The video version of this week Editorial is available on COTRI’s YouTube Channel.

PS The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Data Analytics Forum 2021 is now available in full as a video of more than five hours length on YouTube. The China panel part is between 1:59 and 2:43. Have a look!