Fed up with all the negative news? We don't blame you. From clear blue canals to carbon emissions dropping, we've found a few positive stories to help cheer you up...
The coronavirus is having devastating effects on the world, including all parts of travel, from the struggling tour operators to the people missing out on their trips.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some positive things happening in the world right now that are bound to put a smile on your face.
With almost the whole world grounded, flights have been cancelled, fewer cars are on the road, and public transport services have been reduced to a minimum.
Add to this the unprecedented number of people working from home - meaning closed offices, the disappearance of rush hour and factories halting certain operations - and it’s no surprise that carbon emissions are significantly lower than they were this time last year.
Take China, for example, where the pandemic began. Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst for the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, wrote for Carbon Brief that from the beginning of February to the beginning of March, carbon emissions in China likely fell by a quarter – that’s around 200m tonnes, which, to put into perspective, is half the amount of carbon emissions Britain usually emits in an entire year.
Marshall Burke, an environmental resource economist from Stanford University in the USA, wrote on the blog G-FEED that two months of pollution reduction in China has ‘likely saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70’ in the country.
Similar air pollution reductions have been seen in northern Italy, with nitrogen dioxide emitted from power plants, cars and factories in the part of the country dropping significantly.
Over in New York, Columbia University researchers reported that carbon monoxide levels are down around 50% compared to the same time last year – a positive side effect of having fewer cars on the the city's roads.
Venice has always been a hugely popular tourist destination. But with strict lockdown rules in place, the city is now a ghost town, with people only coming out to buy food and walk their dogs.
With the gondolas stopping their trips up and down the canals, and taxi boats halted from ferrying visitors back and forth - the usually murky canals have cleared up in an astonishingly short amount of time.
Dog walker’s days are being brightened up by turquoise-hued clear waters, which ripple over a rainbow-spectrum bed of now visible plant life and schools of fish.
Swans are often spotted swimming merrily around the neighbouring island of Burano – not news, but surely something to put a smile on your face.
P.S. Dolphins may not have returned, as some misleading social media posts suggested, but they were spotted off the coast of Sardinia, 500 miles away. Just as delightful...
Some people who live in northern India have reported that they can see the snowy caps of the mighty Himalaya mountain range on the horizon - a view that has been hidden by pollution for over thirty years.
Since India went into lockdown due to COVID-19, the country has seen a significant drop in its pollution levels, with India's Central Pollution Board confirming there has already been a vast improvement in air quality.
And the clearing up of all of that pollution has had its own positive affect on residents of northern India, who can now enjoy views out of their windows of the mighty mountains that are over 200km away.
It wasn’t too long ago that the bushfires blazing across Australia were wiping out wildlife, flora and fauna by the millions. But today, a positive story is starting to emerge from our friends Down Under.
Now that the fires have finally been put out, Australia is starting to look a lot less charred by the day, and increasingly vibrant and lush.
Green shoots are bursting out of the ground at an incredible speed. Vines climb and twist around tree trunks. Brightly-coloured lantana flowers are providing cover for mammals. Insects buzz around the canopy, and birds can be heard calling to each other.
Despite the tragic scenes we saw mere months ago, things Down Under are looking much brighter, offering a much needed glimmer of hope.
Even when things look bad, they can and will get better.
Over in Africa, there’s some hope for one of the world’s most endangered animals: the black rhino. It was recently announced that numbers of these incredible creatures are slowly but surely on the rise.
In 2012, the black rhino population was at just over 4,800. However, due to the efforts of relocating groups and a clamp down on poachers, the number rose to around 5,500 in 2018.
This annual increase of 2.5% over six years may be slow progress, but it is progress nonetheless and a conservation story certainly worth smiling about.
Let’s not forget that this pandemic is believed to be the direct result of the wild animal trade.
The good news is, that to help fight the virus, China has now made it illegal to trade and eat wild animals.
Not only will this help to save the life of numerous species - badgers, pangolins and even turtles among them - but the hope is that other countries will soon follow suit. Vietnam is one of the countries said to be considering this vital change.
Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador recently had a very pleasant surprise when its research and biology team found a brand new species of orchid.
The orchid was discovered growing in the Mashpi Reserve that surrounds the eco-lodge. It has been named lepanthes mashpica, and is part of the Pleurothalldinae family of orchids.
And that’s not the only beautiful discovery the lodge has enjoyed lately They also recently discovered a nocturnal tree frog and a magnolia mashpi – an iconic tree type – in the reserve.
This news reminds us that there is still much of the world awaiting discovery, and there will be many more beautiful new sites for us all to set our eyes on once the lockdown is over.
Indonesian authorities had already made the decision to close Komodo Island to protect the large reptiles that inhabit it. Thailand’s Maya Bay, on the island of Phi Phi Leh, was also forced to closed, due to damage caused by too many tourists visiting its surrounding coral reefs.
And there are many more destinations all over the world, from Amsterdam to the Great Wall of China, that will benefit from the world coming to a temporary standstill.
We have already seen how quickly Venice recovered, and it won’t be long until we see the same positive effects the world over. Over-trampled forests will grow back, coral reefs will recover, and sand dunes will have a break from walkers causing erosion.
Hopefully, the breather will give these destinations the time to safeguard their natural resources, and put rules and regulations in place to monitor the numbers of visitors going forward - if they haven't already.
We've all seen the photographs of usually-packed places left completely desolate, and that isn’t going to change overnight.
The recovery from the coronavirus pandemic won't be a snap-your-fingers-and-we’re-all-back-to-normal scenario. It is far more likely to involve a cautious, gradual opening of borders.
Not all countries, airlines and indeed visitors will be ready to start travel again at the same time. This means that iconic sites around the world, such as the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, will remain quieter than usual for a short period.
This will be a great time to explore them before the masses arrive again.
There’s nothing like a warm welcome after a long journey. Once the world starts travelling again, local people who rely on tourism will need your support more than ever, meaning they will appreciate your visit more than ever, too.
Not only is it a great feeling to help out small businesses and local tour guides when they need it the most, but you will also benefit from their happiness of having you there.
Whether you’re part of the first group to participate in a new guided tour, strike up a friendship with the owner of your hotel, or are simply very well looked after at an authentic restaurant - your travel experiences are likely to be more personal and more authentic after the virus.
A win-win for all involved.
Last week, Chinese authorities made the decision to reopen a small section of the Great Wall of China to tourists.
Parts of the Badaling Section – a particularly popular part of the wall, around 80km from Beijing – is now open every day from 9am to 4pm. Locals are now out of lockdown and are enjoying the freedom to explore this classic UNESCO site.
For obvious reasons, social distancing measures are still in place and there are much stricter restrictions on the number of people who can visit at any one time.
But what this reopening offers is a much-needed glimmer of hope. The world may be largely closed for now, but it will start to return to normal again, as China is slowly starting to do.
Thank goodness for modern technology!
With smartphones in our hands, we are all able to keep in touch through video chat with friends and family. And with the power of virtual technology, you’d be surprised by how well-connected with the rest of the world we are.
From Machu Picchu and the Pyramids of Giza to the British Museum and the Palace of Versailles - museums, galleries and travel icons all over the world are popping up to reveal they've launched internet-based tours.
Not only can you ‘walk’ through these places, audio tours and options for in-depth exploration means you can learn a lot about the world, too. All while sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea.
Whether you want to be educated, entertained, or would simply enjoy to see wildlife in its natural habitat, there is a livestream for you.
If you're wanderlust is wildlife-orientated, then you may be feeling down about not being able to see the world's wildlife right now. Well don't be. Watch one of these livestreams, instead, and you'll be comforted that the conservation efforts and rescue centres are still operating around the world. And wild animals are continuing to go about their daily business!
We've had reports of herds of deer settling down on Londoner's front doorsteps, a group of cows enjoying a day out at the beach, and rare wildlife making an appearance on the streets of India.
It seems wildlife are making the most of the peace and quite lockdowns around the world has brought, and have dared to reclaim some of the land.
Although she warned there may be delays, prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has reassured people that the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny are essential workers.
Great news for both children and adult chocolate-lovers. So be sure to check if there are any eggs hiding in your house over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
Just because you can’t travel right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan your next trip. Far from it!
With self-isolating regulations in place and many people working from home, chances are that you have more time than usual on your hands right now. Use it to update your bucket list, or research your next adventure.
Choose your next destination, start mapping out your itinerary and make your plans ahead of time. Prepare now, and you can make sure you’re first out of the door when the world dusts off its suitcase and is free to start exploring again.
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