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Editorial: Reflections on human mobility in pandemic and post-pandemic times

Josefina Domínguez-Mujica et Armando Montanari

Résumés

Beaucoup de théories sur le développement territorial ont été developpées au cours des cinquante dernières années autour du concept de mobilité humaine, comprise comme la mobilité des personnes aux niveaux régionaux, nationaux et internationaux, celle des biens et des facteurs de production, les flux financiers et les processus de transmission culturelle. Néanmoins, le développement de la pandémie oblige à réviser ces fondements, de même que ceux de l’essence même de l’(im)mobilité humaine. Durant la pandémie, à toutes les échelles géographiques, on a observé des modifications des comportements concernant les relations, les loisirs, le logement, le travail et les services et des réponses résilientes se sont développées dans les champs sociaux et sanitaires. Le but de cet article est de discuter de ces ruptures causées par la pandémie sur les comportements de la mobilité humaine et sur les mutations et continuités que la phase post-pandémique a induites. Les questions clés tournent autour de ce qui a changé et de ce qui subsiste, c’est-à-dire de savoir quel rôle la mobilité humaine continuera de jouer dans la période post-pandémique.

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1The experience of almost deserted streets, of closed shop shutters, of postponed travels and of tourists absent from historic cities will remain within us over time, as immobility gains ground and mobility stays on pause. In the meantime, the screens of televisions and PCs continue, well after the end of the lockdown, to update the numbers and progress of a pandemic that does not slow down, keeping the number of cases and deaths sadly high. Furthermore, the interpretation and comments of these figures are not clear and increase the fear and disorientation of the citizenry. In an attempt to stop the virus spread, authorities around the world have forced the population to remain indoors for shorter or longer periods, and social events, parties and mass gatherings have been identified as dangerous and hence forbidden, the lockdown.

2During this period of emergency and uncertainty, affected individuals have developed a sense of powerlessness, which has transformed into a psychological need to shut oneself up in one’s own family and small circle of friends. These conditions have in turn proven to be the cause of the strong reduction in national and international travel, and of human mobility in general. Air traffic decreased by 90 per-cent, hotels saw a reduction in the number of customers by almost the same percentage and myriads of international migrants, students and visitors got trapped in remote locations, with no flights to take them home, or significant delays and cancellations of their mobility projects. IATA, the world carriers’ association, has recently estimated that a possible recovery will not occur before 2024.

3In the summer of 2020, following the limitations suffered during the previous months, many tried to take a vacation away from their first residences. For the most part it was a question of mobility limited to the local dimension with visits to close tourism destinations. However, many restrictions put in place by nation-states, including border closures, limitations to job permits and quarantines for travelers, have decreased international human mobility, with the lingering exceptions linked to internal and international conflicts or to severe economic imbalances triggering irregular migrations.

4In order to convey courage and confidence to the general population, institutions are sending the message that everything will be soon the way it was before, and that a vaccine that is close to be produced and marketed will solve all the problems. Nevertheless, the fear of contagion and the feeling of insecurity remain, favoring immobility. This presents an occasion to reflect on the overtourism phenomenon that has developed over the past decade and that research and administrations were seeking alternatives and solutions for. Some analysts are actually hoping Covid-19 will bring tourism back to its right dimension without specifying how can this be done. At the same time, we must analyze the virtual world conditioning an innovative digital labor market, as well as the new role of transnationalism in order to shed light on the current mobility scenario.

Introduction

5Many of the theories on territorial development have been built in the last fifty years around the concept of human mobility, understood as the mobility at the regional, national, and international level of people, goods, economic factors, financial flows, and cultural transmission processes. The reflections referred to in this essay are based on the economic modifications that occurred after the crisis of the 1970s, the so-called oil crisis, and, particularly, the internationalization of the economy (Coffey, Bailly, 1996). Since that date, great change has affected the world economic structure, moving from a system characterized by a stable relationship between production and consumption and by economies of scale and mass production of standardized goods (Fordism), towards another more flexible system in terms of the accumulation process, with more capitalized economies and with a more segmented production and personalized goods (post-Fordism or global capitalism) (Aglietta 1979; Lipietz 1986; Harvey, 1989; Soja, 1989). This process was further developed after 1989, with the fall of the Berlin wall and the subsequent international geopolitical transformations. These accelerated from Christmas Day 1991, with the resignation of Gorbachev, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

6The concept of the global economy appeared in the mid-1980s in the documents of various international think tanks and consultants linked to major US business schools. The central objective that presided over these pioneering works was to highlight the progressive evolution towards a world without borders, supported by new information technologies and the parallel elimination of barriers to trade and to the development of international companies, which should favour a new way of formulating business strategies with the aim to capitalize on the opportunities gained by this novel situation. Then, with the advent of the globalization process, a new expansive phase of capitalism and of the economic interdependencies between states began (Ikenberry, Kupchan, 1990; Krasner, 1999).

7In this panorama, the analysis of human mobility acquired an unusual importance since it globalized at the rhythm of the economy, in the sense that most of the countries participate in it and that we find people of all origins and conditions in any country of the world. Consequently, the study of a process affecting work, housing, family structures, health, education, the relationship between cultures and religions, and the political and social participation became an axis of preferential attention in the field of Geography and, particularly, from the International Geographical Union (IGU). For this reason, in the year 2000, an active research network on the issue of global change and human mobility, Globility (https://www.globility.org/​), was established, to which some two hundred research institutes from all continents participated.

8To facilitate international scientific collaboration in this area, 30 conferences and seminars have been organized, the results of which have been published in volumes and specialized journals. The first twenty years of activity were dedicated to the analysis of what the economic, social, and cultural changes of the different communities were, as well as what effects they had on human mobility. Vice versa, it was also studied how technological, economic, and cultural changes caused human mobility.

9This approach has completely changed with the appearance of the pandemic caused by the spread of SARS-CoV2 at the beginning of 2020, so the concept of human mobility has been transformed into human immobility or, better said, into a definitive or temporary limitation of human mobility. We do not know for sure when, how and where the pandemic will stop affecting our communities, although the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, assured in the speech he gave during the 72nd session of the Regional Committee of the WHO for Europe, on September 12, 2022, that the end of the pandemic “is in sight”.

10Nevertheless, researchers from all disciplines agree that the situation will never be the same again and that the habits of reduced human mobility imposed by the pandemic will affect us, in whole or in part, for many years. Since 2020, Globility’s research and reflection activities have focused on the analysis of this new situation to identify what the scenarios of the near future may be. This was done at the IGU World Congress that took place in Istanbul in 2021, while in 2022 these reflections were deepened in a similar congress, the IGU Centennial Congress in Paris.

11This essay takes up and expands on the topics that constitute the basis of that cultural debate that took place on these events, offering a review of the state of knowledge from three different perspectives: i) features on human mobility from the point of view of prepandemic times; ii) disruptions and resilience in mobility because of the containment of movement and the appraisal of the local displacements during the pandemic; and iii) continuities and perspectives.

Features on human mobility in prepandemic times

12As mentioned before, since the restructuration of the economy in the 1980s, the concept of human mobility has developed simultaneously with the phenomena of internationalization and globalization. This scenario modified those migrations of the 1960s and 1970s characterized by the movement of people between home places and host workplaces, as a result of initiatives by companies seeking labor or bilateral agreements between states (Montanari, Staniscia, 2014).

13From the beginning of the 1990s, the situation changed, and a new relationship was established between the great powers at international level affecting the context of mobility not only that of people and goods, but also cultural manifestations and economic habits (Montanari, Staniscia, 2016). In correspondence with this change, some scholars made a great contribution to the definition of human mobility. The first of them was John Urry (2000) and then Allan M. Williams & C. Michael Hall (2002). The latter have taken steps to include both migration and tourism under the same definition of human mobility. This statement was not intended to superimpose tourism on migration but to establish a continuity between the two human activities which at this point were distinguished by a productive motivation, those that had previously been identified with economic migrations, or by a recreational motivation, what was previously considered to be tourism.

14The differences between these two complex types of mobility have been indicated in a descriptive model (Montanari, 2012). This model has helped to highlight priority activities which are followed by overlapping secondary mobility variously activated by production and consumption needs. In the production-led mobility, the main activities are distinguished by those of managers, technicians, and skilled workers, differentiating the levels of responsibility in production. There are also flows of migrants, not easily identifiable except for their state of administrative regularization, which have been present in a territory for a longer time and therefore more easily integrated and which constitute a link between direct production and induced consumption. The other more recently acquired migrants, often by definition with a definite time, combine temporary uncertainties with an imprecise location from a regulatory and administrative point of view.

15The flows of tourists, hikers and local visitors have been included in mobility for consumption. The category of visitors to friends and relatives, better known by the acronym VFR (visiting friends and relatives), although connected to migratory flows, is made up of real tourists who, so far, have not been considered as such because they do not stay overnight in receptive structures. Another important category of mobility for consumption is represented by the migratory flows of pensioners, IRM (International Retirement Migration). IRMs can play a role in the production cycles since once in the holiday location, the subjects who have moved can also become managers of real estate agencies, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and other activities aimed above all at their compatriots.

16Commuting, that is to say recurring and repeated mobility, finds space both in the category of mobility aimed at production and that aimed at consumption. In the case of mobility for production, this flow indicates a shortage of manpower in the urban settlement, but it can also mean a lack of housing structures, in absolute or qualitative terms, which obliges, depending on the case, managers, technicians and workers to reside in the surrounding areas and, therefore, forces them to daily movements. A settlement undergoing restructuring and development does not always manage to offer newcomers those facilities and services they need. Starting from the first stages of the evolutionary process, outbound commuting develops in search of facilities for recreation, sport, free time, shopping, but also for health care, training, and education. In the stages of mature development, it may happen, conversely, that it is the settlement that offers the surrounding areas services and infrastructures of a higher quantity and level.

17The Human Mobility Model (Montanari, 2005) shows how mobility flows are organized in a metropolitan area as economic and social contexts change. As an example, six phases of development of an urban settlement have been indicated, considering the different way in which people who move for reasons of work, leisure, family life, migration and escape behave, according to independent arrangements of mobility, forming and reforming the geographies of networks and travel in the early twenty-first century. Under these conditions, human mobility, migration, and tourism no longer affect only two distinct places in the territory, the point of departure and the point of arrival, but a network of places that change over time and over the course of the existence of individuals. In the most advanced phase of society, human mobility appears on the territory as a fluid activity, more a process than a precise settlement project. This has also happened thanks to the development of social networks in recent decades which have favored the physical movement of people, goods, and things. But together they have also stimulated journeys of the imagination, which are essentially based on memory and emotions, virtual journeys, which take place via the internet, intangible contacts through direct communication between individuals by post, telephone, fax, videoconferencing and more.

18Another fruitful topic in the recent evolution of migration studies is offered by the gender perspective. This has been incorporated into existing themes and methods of migration research and has also led to the development of new areas of interest: employment, gender relations, household organization, identity, citizenship, transnationalism, and migration policy (Willis, Yeoh, 2005), in accordance with the role of women in the composition and definition of the decision to migrate. An example is offered by the studies related to the female flows of migrants to southern Europe in the context of a large informal economy and irregular employment (Anthias, Lazaridis, 2020; Domínguez-Mujica et al., 2014; Domínguez-Mujica, Guerra-Talavera, 2006). The role of gender can also be identified in other case studies, like in the research on communities from Eastern European countries whose women migrate to the Italian regions bordering the Adriatic Sea. Female migration in these areas, has been a growing phenomenon often characterized by well-educated women, who move alone, driven by economic factors, and looking for autonomy and independence (Montanari, Staniscia, 2009).

19Globally, women continue to migrate at an increasing pace, particularly in Europe, Africa, and Oceania, and have developed a pronounced role within the global labor market. Therefore, dialogue has developed in the international community to include gender in migration research and highlight differences in experiences for migrant women. Gender categories affect who migrates and to where, the risks associated with migration and how people migrate and use their network of acquaintances. Gender dynamics influence the experiences of migrants throughout all stages of migration, impacting the trajectories, rates, and levels of migration, as well as the flows of remittances and their usage (Benería, Deere, and Kabeer 2012). Besides, migrant women, with the help of ICTs, maintain important social relations and connections to their homeland because their daily lives depend on multiple and constant interconnections across international borders, living transnationally (Gouma et al., 2014) and displaying the ability to remain connected to their family at home (Kuehnis, 2021).

20Another flourishing issue in the years preceding COVID-19 on human mobility aimed at consumption (tourism) has forced researchers to use a new term, that of overtourism. UNWTO had registered an ever-increasing number of tourists in the first decades of the new century. In 2019, a figure of international tourists equal to about 1.8 billion was expected for the year 2030, most of whom would go to urban areas. The WTTC, World Travel and Tourism Council (2019), estimated that even before COVID-19, 45 percent of all world tourism, estimated at around 1.4 billion, chose an urban area as a travel destination. Often these flows were concentrated in time, the tourist season, and in space, the historical and shopping areas. The city was overrun by tourists to the point that its services, public transport, waste collection and disposal, were unable to support the demand expressed by tourists and residents. From this imbalance came the use of the term overtourism.

21The main cause of the overtourism, however, was considered to be the significant increase in the offer of low-cost facilities and services and the fine line that exists in this sector between legality and illegality also due to the long time required for local administrators to adequately regulate the sector. A segment where the need for regulation is evident is that of accommodation rented to tourists for a short time, for two or three days. This has resulted in the emergence of serious social problems in cities around the world. The offer of short-term rentals for tourists has helped to steal from the market thousands of apartments previously intended for long-term rentals for residents (Montanari, 2020).

22All these analytical perspectives show that mobility studies, at the pace of the complexity marked by the processes of globalization and internationalization, had achieved a high level of academic complexity and success. However, the outbreak of the pandemic forced us to review these assumptions, as well as the very essence of human (im)mobility.

Disruptions and resilience during the pandemic

23The measures to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV2 since 2020 marked a Copernican shift in the way we conceived and moved in private and communitarian spaces because of the lockdown and the gradual de-escalation actions. On all the geographical scales, changes in behavioural patterns regarding coexistence, leisure, housing, work, and services were recorded (Rowe et al., 2022; Lekić et al., 2022) and the resilient responses to the socio-health actions gained ground (Bereitschaft, Scheller, 2020).

24But these responses diverged according to the measures adopted by the different countries of the world and by their central and local authorities (Ren, 2020). At a regional level social decisions on mobility had a greater repercussion. So, local human mobility acquired more intensity than that of long-distance movements. At an international level, restrictions to migrations from the perspective of the policies implemented by central authorities also differed, as well as the measures adopted with respect to international tourism. Leisure practices both modified and strengthened at a local scale while new forms of hybrid lifestyle and work migrations gained prominence at the international scale.

25Therefore, it is possible to assess these disparities from the point of view of the global context affecting the labour, seasonal, transborder, return, irregular migrants, asylum and refugee seekers, international students, and tourists.

26From the point of view of international labour migrants, the pandemic caused them to lose their jobs, leaving many of them unemployed and in a precarious situation. At the same time, the cancellation or expiration of their visas meant a drop in their income level and the impossibility of sending remittances to their families, harming the economy of their home countries. In these circumstances, some governments tried to reintegrate those emigrants into the home labour market. This was the case in India, for example, whose Ministry of External Affairs, after having received more than one million requests, was proactive in rescuing and bringing back its citizens from regions that were seriously affected by the pandemic, especially from the Middle East (Irudaya Rajan et al., 2020, p. 210). But, simultaneously, as studied by other authors, internally reverse migration acquired great importance, precipitating a severe ‘crisis of mobility’ in the whole country, with migrant laborers in many major cities seeking to return to their hometowns (Khan, Arokkiaraj, 2021).

27With respect to the work force, the health measures to contain the pandemic also brought out great unbalances with respect to the human mobility reorganization. As stated by Kellerman (2022, p. 250), the coronavirus lockdowns expanded both edges of immobility: strongly restricted and widely forbidden physical mobility, coupled with a widely expanding virtual mobility, used not just for social communications but for work. And this relationship between immobility and mobility implied a health risk for those workers who could not change the office for home. This involved an amplification of inequalities along with class, gender, and the migration status, jobs that were performed outdoors being allocated to lower social strata (Dobusch, Kreissl, 2020).

28Consequently, COVID-19 intensified the existing uneven relations of (im)mobilities (Adey et al., 2021), given that immigrants suffered the risk of exposure to contagion more than other workers because of their disproportionate representation in the essential workforce. As Clark et al. pointed out (2020), the economic situation of immigrant communities required continuation of work, because their type of job often involves face-to-face interaction. This enhanced the role of migrants in the essential work and its regulation, making them more visible. As an example, immigrants made up 13% of essential jobs on the frontline of COVID-19 responses in the European Union: caring for infected people and the vulnerable in nursing homes; in other activities like harvesting crops, processing, packing, and delivering food; and serving in supermarkets and transportation (Fasani, Mazza, 2020). In the USA, 73% of the agriculture labour force is made up by immigrants and 29% of all food manufacturing. 28% of highly skilled professionals such as physicians and surgeons are immigrants, and they are also direct care workers such as nursers, psychiatric and home health aides at a rate of 24% (National Immigration Forum, 2020).

29When considering the impact of the pandemic on the migrant workforce, special attention should be paid to seasonal workers in the agricultural sector given that this is an activity on which the food supply and well-being rest. As stated by Bochtis et al. (2020), the resilience and sustainability of the sector in such an urgent situation was imperative. This explains the exceptional measures adopted by different governments substituting seasonal migrant labour with other migrant workers (as in the case of Spain, extending the contracts to those temporary workers whose resident permits expired, or Singapore, where the government extended all expired work visas for two months and committed to assist laid-off foreign workers with income support, free accommodation, and food). Other administrations allowed border crossing to seasonal migrants (as in the case of the USA, where the Trump Administration excepted the Mexican farmhands from closure) or granted amnesty and gave short-term visas to undocumented foreign workers (as in the case of Portugal, Taiwan, and in the shelved proposal of the Italian government to give temporary work permits to thousands of undocumented Africans) (Abella, 2020).

30Another labour sector especially affected by the closure of borders was that of workers who make their living out of formal and informal cross-border trade. In some parts of the world, the desire to sustain the free flow of essential goods and services behoved some countries to devise means of cooperation in ensuring that their borders remained open, as happened with the countries of the Eastern African Community (EAC) (Barack, Munga, 2021). In other cases, the response to border closure curtailed the subjective practices, desires, expectations, and the behaviours of transborder migrants themselves, as in the case of those between Morocco and Ceuta (Spain) (Ferrer-Gallardo, Gabrieli, 2022) and between Colombia and Venezuela. In this last set of circumstances, the consequences of closing borders were disastrous. From the moment Venezuela’s black market of Colombian products was disrupted, organized criminal groups began to smuggle goods and monopolized cross-border trade (Idler, Hochmüller, 2020).

31Involving a political point of view in this analysis, the complex (im)mobility also affected return migrants, those moving irregularly and asylum seekers. Assisted or unassisted return migration was a real challenge about staying and returning not only for migrants but for the logistics of regional governments and institutions like the International Organization for Migrations (IOM) and the World Health Organization (WHO) itself. Many migrants were stranded for some time in transit points (or buffer zones) of several lands and maritime migratory routes such as Turkey, Greece (eastern Mediterranean), Libya (central Mediterranean), Niger (Sahara route), Djibouti, and Yemen (East African route to Saudi Arabia), Kenya (southern route) and elsewhere (Sahin-Mencütek, 2021) and many of them were assisted in the framework of specific return operations, especially in Africa’s transit points.

32Nevertheless, border closures made it virtually impossible for incoming asylum seekers to apply for international protection in many countries of the world (Guadagno, 2020). For example, asylum procedures were suspended by some EU Member States (Cyprus, Greece, and Hungary) (Casaglia, 2021), arrival centres were closed (Belgium) (Brannon, 2020), ports were declared unsafe (Italy and Malta) (Marin, 2020), and asylum applicants were banned from entry. In these circumstances the smuggling of migrants across the borders increased. To the “traditional” reasons for irregular migration (political conflicts, poverty, etc.), the pressure of the fall in the gross domestic income in less developed countries (exports, tourism, remittances, etc.) contributed to an increase in this type of flow. This happened on the Mexico-USA border and in the shores of the EU outermost region of the Canary Islands (Spain), where the number of migrants from Latin America and Africa, respectively, trying to reach a “promised” land, despite the risks on the way, grew greatly (Domínguez-Mujica et al., 2022).

33Moving the focus from migration to mobility, in this review of selected processes of (im)mobility during the pandemic crisis, the international student mobility deserves special attention.

34Everyone knows that the pandemic had a global impact in the learning process with an impressive shift from the regular educative activities to electronic teaching and learning. In this general process international tertiary students played a particular role, as demonstrated by research on their living, financial, and mental conditions during the COVID-19 outbreak. Different essays developed in Canada (Firang, 2020); Australia (Nguyen, Balakrishnan, 2020); the USA (Xiong et al., 2022); Portugal (Malet-Calvo et al., 2020); South Korea (Kim, Kim, 2021); The Netherlands (Misirlis et al., 2021); etc. have demonstrated that they were more vulnerable during the pandemic and clearly showed negative emotions, such as loneliness, anxiety, and depression. For this reason, some authors have argued that international students were reluctant to study abroad in 2021, given the uncertainty of the outbreak of the virus in the fall of 2020 (Dennis, 2020). Therefore, the behaviour of international student mobility after the pandemic will require special attention.

35Finally, a complete analysis of the impact of the pandemic on the tourist sector exceeds the aims of this state of knowledge. It would require a specific outlook, as done early by Gössling et al. (2020). However, it is possible to give a glance to the reinforcement of new forms of tourism and working (digital nomadism and teleworking), to the underpinning of local tourism, and to the lifestyle mobilities. The importance of the first derives from the number of those who wanted to realize the desire to escape traditional forms of work through mobility, the second because of searching for the safety of the local natural environments, and the third thanks to the consolidated communities of lifestyle migrants.

36During the pandemic, these three tourism modalities have strengthened flexibility and fluidity as opposed to immobility. They have also represented an alternative to tourism decisions away from conventional circuits of marketing and businesses, demonstrating new forms of collective organization and identity. And these forms of personality, socially interrelate with global processes of hypermobility, digitalization, subjectivity, and reflexivity (D’Andrea, 2006), facilitated by a new infrastructure and access to information in the current phase of global change or global capitalism.

Continuities in post-pandemic times

37Contemporary society is learning to live with uncertainty. The pandemic has had a profound impact in the perception of vulnerability by humankind and the only possibilities to diminish this feeling will depend on the result of producing adequate vaccines to face pandemic variants. So, the only certainty is represented by uncertainty. Will the trust in the scientific advances diminish the perception of vulnerability and so favour renewed mobility?

38On February 24, 2022, when the world was gradually waking up from the effects of the pandemic, the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine began. This reminded us that we were returning to a stage of international confrontation in which many countries were already involved, especially in Africa or the Middle East or, in this case, at the confines of Europe. This label forced migration as a recurring phenomenon not altered by the effects of the pandemic. Will armed conflicts and territorial disputes continue to be some of the most adverse manifestations of human mobility?

39The same can be said of the internal displacements caused by climate change, which reinforced after the pandemic. It is estimated that natural disasters generated more than 23 million of these displacements in 2021. Frequently, the devastating consequences of climate change (floods, soil desertification, air pollution, etc.) ally with political conflicts contributing to the loss of livelihoods and to the insecurity of some communities, especially, those of their weakest members: women and children. In these cases, human mobility becomes the only answer for their survival. Has the pandemic been a wake-up call for the construction of a more resilient society in the face of climate change, or will unchanged consumption patterns continue triggering forced migrations?

40From the point of view of production, the paralysis of human mobility during the pandemic, as we have been pointing out, highlighted the importance of activities displayed by some mobile workers. Thus, the progress of the digital economy has not prevented the activity of low-skilled migrant workers from continuing to be essential, such as those in agriculture or those who provide health and care services. Nor has the demand for highly skilled workers diminished, indeed, it has generated greater flexibility and hyper-productivity in the logic of the neoliberal order. Will a reinforced digital capitalism accentuate the relationships between the different categories of workers attending to their mobile condition?

41In the sphere of a peculiar mobility for reasons of consumption-production, we could place that of international students. This mobility, which is related to the personal development of young people, the desire to travel, and the professional expectations for the future, has acquired a new vitality in the 2022-2023 academic year. With the return to face-to-face teaching and with a large part of the student body vaccinated, the demands do not stop growing. In three of the world countries leading mobility – the United States, the United Kingdom and France – the number of pre-registrations is higher than that of the pre-pandemic stage. Faced with vulnerability perceived by the population as a whole and, especially, by the elderly, are young people excepted, trying to recover mobility most vigorously?

42The gradual relaxation of travel restrictions has been contributing to a recovery in tourism activity and consumption-led mobility. The local dimension for leisure activities has acquired a new strength, while proximity tourism has been revalued in less crowded destinations, as well as nature tourism. This recovery has highlighted the need for more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism development. Consequently, the security and confidence offered by certain destinations establishes new territorial imbalances. Will the perception of vulnerability/safety continue conditioning the choice of destinations and contribute to the loss of visitors of those places considered risk areas?

43There is no doubt about the revaluation of the local dimension of human mobility from a geographical perspective in pandemic and post-pandemic times. The choice for open zones has propitiated new trends in consumption habits and the moving of a greater percentage of population in metropolitan areas from the more densely urbanized to suburban environments. The search for a better quality of life and the advance in teleworking have contributed to modify the residential preferences introducing new tensions in the land and housing market and challenges for urban planners. Will the local dimension provide sustainability, and a more equitable social and territorial development?

44As has been stated, the spread of SARS-CoV2 constituted a significant break not only in many economic activities and social habits of advanced societies but also in human mobility. In the two years in which the pandemic had the most severe consequences, the world had come to a halt. It would have been necessary to use this time to schedule the restart. This restart would be based on foundations capable of considering the new values of society: the ecological transition, the digitization of society, the quality of life. In the context of post-pandemic, what will the resources available to deal with and achieve these new values be? What role will human mobility continue to play?

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Josefina Domínguez-Mujica et Armando Montanari, « Editorial: Reflections on human mobility in pandemic and post-pandemic times »Belgeo [En ligne], 3 | 2022, mis en ligne le 26 octobre 2022, consulté le 28 novembre 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/belgeo/55904 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/belgeo.55904

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Josefina Domínguez-Mujica

University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain), josefina.dominguezmujica@ulpgc.es

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Armando Montanari

Sapienza Rome University (Italy), armando.montanari@uniroma1.it

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