The world has changed. So has "52 places".

This year, the second in a row, the Times Travel office has taken on the challenge of creating one of our flagship pieces of journalism,...


This year, the second in a row, the Times Travel office has taken on the challenge of creating one of our flagship pieces of journalism, the annual list of “52 Places”, in a disrupted world.

A year ago, when world travel was at a standstill at all, we turned to readers to ask questions about the places that had supported them during the darkest days of the lockdown. This list included places as diverse as fantastic colorful rock formations in India and a humble brick church in South London. They were faraway destinations dear to the memory, or places nearby that had offered comfort, and they served as a reminder that the world was still there, waiting.

Now that the pandemic is entering its third calendar year, travel around the world is more possible, but it remains difficult and fraught with uncertainty. Populations in many countries outside of North America and Europe are largely unvaccinated, while China and other countries in Asia remain closed to most visitors. Shortly after the Biden administration relaxed the rules for international travel to the United States, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus began to spread. Even vaccinated travelers who have received boosters are not immune to this latest twist in the virus. Travel restrictions for visitors from southern African countries were quickly put in place and then lifted.

Beyond the pandemic, a profound shift is underway in the global understanding of climate change and the speed and degree with which we are already seeing the effects. Forest fires, floods, dangerous storms, rising waters and temperatures: everything reminds us of how fragile our world is. The travel industry is responsible for 8 to 11% of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, and at the Glasgow Climate Summit this fall, the tourism industry has made its first pledge to reduce carbon emissions by half by 2030 and reach “net zero” by 2050.

There is also the problem of overtourism, which has been stemmed by the pandemic but threatens to reassert itself when the world starts to move again. The crowds that made Venice almost impassable in high season, or neighborhoods transformed into Barcelona in the Airbnb outposts, have cleared up for now. But will we have learned anything from the forced shutdowns, or will the same patterns reappear?

Yet, as the engagement of the tourism industry in Glasgow demonstrates, travel can also be part of the solution, and not just about the climate. Travel sustains depleted savings in places that depend on tourist dollars and opens travelers’ eyes to cultures and customs different from their own. This thought is the spirit that drives this year’s list, “52 Places for a changed world. “

In the past, the list has often focused on things like a newly hip restaurant scene, an exciting new museum, or the opening of a fabulous beachfront resort. This list, instead, highlights highlight the places where change is actually happening – where endangered wildlands are preserved, endangered species are protected, historic wrongs are recognized, fragile communities are strengthened – and where travelers can be a part of the change. Visiting a Canadian park run by an indigenous tribe helps keep a culture alive. Sampling whiskey at Scottish distillery turning to zero-emission fuel helps reduce carbon emissions. Dine at a Midwestern restaurant with ex-convicts contributes to elevation. We especially love places where grassroots efforts are pushing transformation, making their corner of the world a better place for whatever goes wrong.

These aren’t the spinach (or broccoli) travel lists: the vistas of Iberá Park in Argentina are breathtaking even if you don’t know the park’s grasslands are crucial. save a bird known as the Strange Tailed Tyrant. Diving with sharks in the Caribbean is magical, but it’s even more true when you know you are helping save these creatures that are so critical to the health of the oceans. Visit the gloomy Normandy coast by bike is a delightl, and the carbon saved is a bonus.

Some of the places on this list are not yet open to travelers, and some are in areas hard hit by the virus that may not be safe, at least for now. Our message is not to get on the next plane, but to use this list as inspiration for your own more meaningful and fulfilling journey over the coming year and beyond.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The world has changed. So has "52 places".
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