In recent weeks, I have noticed an increase in the number of guests from Boston here in town. The other day I spoke with a couple who have lived in Boston for 20 years, who were in Marblehead for the first (!) time. I find that remarkable. Don’t you?
Covid-19 has changed the way we do a great many things this year, including, for many, vacationing: People tend to travel locally during times of economic instability. Add to that the current travel bans and other restrictions and it is easy to see why I, along with many other travel experts predict an increase in domestic and local tourism for the next year or two. Or five. I have heard countless stories of cancelled trips to Europe and elsewhere, with people left State-side to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and other important events. So instead of jetting off to some far flung destination we are forced to stay close to home, like my example of the fine folks from Boston. But why does it take a pandemic and economic turmoil to make us take a staycation?
People have traveled since the beginning of time for a variety of reasons including exploration, war, business, and pleasure. Today, international tourism is a global industry accounting for “9% of global GDP, 30% of services exports and 1 in every 11 jobs” ( UNWTO, 2014 ). The state of Massachusetts welcomed 31 million domestic and international visitors in 2018. These visitors spent $24.2 billion, a 5.6% increase of $1.3 billion over 2017, and generating $1.6 billion in combined state and local taxes for MA and its municipalities, an increase of 5.1% from 2017. Domestic travel spending in MA grew to $19.9 billion, a 6% increase from 2017. There is clearly something that brings people here. Yet we often book vacations away from here.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge proponent of sustainable travel , e.g. travel that takes into account all stakeholders, including the local community as I have seen it transform people, young and old, myself included, in the most amazing ways. I too travel abroad frequently, both for work and for pleasure, however two years ago, at a career crossroads, I made a conscious choice to not take a job as an international tour guide simply because I didn’t want to be away from here for 6-8 months per year. That’s when the penny dropped and I instead decided to form a company promoting local, sustainable, community based tourism. Right here. But that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is about the goldmine we call Marblehead and Cape Ann.
My point is that as we are now forced to make vacations staycations, we might as well truly embrace it, relative to our own comfort zones and economic means. Tailor your staycation accordingly, but do embrace it, however that looks to you: Book a private fishing charter; buy lobsters from a local lobster fisherman and cook them up at home; support your local restaurants and servers; engage virtually or in person in the many events in town; stay in a local hotel or bed and breakfast for a night or two; buy a new outfit, local piece of art or jewelry, or go hunting for the best lobster roll in Marblehead and beyond – bring a scorecard for fun!
Not only will you discover more of what Marblehead has to offer; you will also support those who make a living off tourism, many who lost two or three months of business already this year. If you need inspiration, spend some time on the Discover Marblehead site and start planning! Just no matter if you are in Marblehead or Beverly, please remember to respect the locals and follow the seven Leave No Trace principles , including carry in/carry out. We live here.
Guest Blog Author: Eva Mossberg – Sustainable travel expert and passionate explorer. Founder & CEO at Experiential Expeditions.