By Stephen Taranto, Sendas Altas | La Paz on Foot

In our line of work, it is a challenge to write a headline that comes across as negative. After all, our ambition is to share the unique, superlative, positive and perhaps even transformative aspects of the natural and cultural landscapes covering our magnificent planet. But in this brand new age of COVID-19, it’s tough to find many silver linings in the clouds hanging over travel and tourism. So many of us have worked so hard for so many years and “poof” it all seems to be on the verge of blowing away in the plague-stricken winds now circling the globe, winds that only seem to exacerbate many of the various pre-existing conflicts and inequalities that have worsened in recent years.

We stand to lose so much in this new, evolving reality, but at the same time, and despite how difficult it might be to think forward right now, we also stand to learn a great deal about our particular weaknesses and strengths and how we might have a fighting chance to make it through. Through to exactly what is hard to say at this point, but there will be a day when we can say that the crests of new coronavirus cases and the associated loss of life in indigenous and rural communities, cities, regions and countries around the world begins to fall and the severity of the pandemic is in decline.

When I think about Bolivia and the greater Central Andes region, where our company Sendas Altas works, I can think of so many things that we will lose if travel and tourism is severely impacted or disappears in the economic and cultural transformations that are inevitable in the coming months and years. To be sure, some of those things might be good to lose and while I don’t want to paint over the negative impacts travel has on the planet and its natural and cultural communities it would be dishonest to ignore the fact that tourism can cause harm.

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