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Silver linings

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postedAugust 15, 2020
While the pandemic has taken lives and stalled travel, the change in daily schedules has produced, for many, a silver lining. Courier asked NTA members if they took COVID’s lemons and made lemonade.

What silver linings have you experienced?

Julie Colson
Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Office  |  Irmo, South Carolina

"My father had a saying, 'Family is forever,' and I always took that to mean my blood relatives. However, working with the many wonderful folks in tourism and hospitality, our partners and clients have become extended family, giving new meaning to my father’s favorite line."

Clayton Whitehead, CTP
Sports Leisure Vacations  |  Sacramento, California

"I am a general handyman for a number of elderly customers-turned-friends. Due to complications following surgery back in late February, one has become bedridden. Normally I’m on the road nonstop through the months of March, April, and May, but this unexpected 'vacation' from travel made me available for her daily needs. A strange blessing, perhaps, but a blessing nonetheless: She’s getting the care she needs, and I have a newfound purpose."

Misha’s night-blooming cereus cactus
Misha’s night-blooming cereus cactus (Photo by Misha Jovanovic)

Misha Jovanovic
Misha Tours  |  San Diego, California

"I spent my free time developing a massive cactus garden, and I showed it around the world on Facebook."

Carmen Metcalf
Rail Source International  |  Olin, North Carolina

"This is the first time in many years I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my family. Normally this is impossible, as from spring to fall I am completely overwhelmed with the pressure of handling new quotes, bookings, and client departures. What a relief I felt this year!. In a way I wish it could always be this way, but on the other hand, I am itching to get back to the everyday of the travel business. It was nice while it lasted, though, and I can’t be mad at that."

Nayaz Noor
39 Degrees South  |  Fountain Gate, Victoria, Australia

"I wanted to get a bit tech savvy and totally out of my comfort zone. I successfully completed a certification course that covers all aspects of information technology, and then I enrolled in a short-term postgraduate program that leads to a Certificate of Cyber Security at Deakin University in Melbourne. How out of sorts is this?"

Tracy and Matt Goolsby, honeymooning in the Maldives
Tracy and Matt Goolsby, honeymooning in the Maldives (Photo courtesy Tracy Goolsby)

Tracy Goolsby (formerly Banfield)
Tulalip Tribes/Quil Ceda Village  |  Tulalip, Washington

"I was married on Feb. 16 and followed the wedding with the honeymoon of a lifetime—just as the pandemic was hitting the U.S. My husband and I traveled to the Maldive Islands for a blissful trip. We made it back to the U.S. just in time, right before the shutdowns began. We are so thankful that we were able to make that trip and have that experience fresh in our minds … until we can travel once again."

Palmyre Gilles
Québec Copper Art Studio & Museum  |  Chatéeau-Richer, Québec

"This pandemic has given me the opportunity to take a step back and relax—to look at my life, what I have achieved, and why I am still working in our family Copper Art Studio. It has given me a chance to reflect on my work, and if I want to continue, but mostly I have taken time to refocus on what’s important: life and family! Amazingly, I also realized that I was able to outdo myself and get through difficult times."

Greg Takehara
Tourism Cares  |  Norwood, Massachusetts

"How often in our lives, pre-pandemic, would we say we don’t have time for anything other than work, family, and of course, travel? The pandemic has provided an opportunity to learn, reflect, and take advantage of educational opportunities. In May, Tourism Cares launched its Meaningful Travel Platform, focusing on responsible travel, and the response has been tremendous."

Bob Marx, President
Landmark Tours & Cruises  |  Southwick, Massachusetts

"Joy and I have used much of our free time to clean out and eliminate files—enough to fill four recycling barrels over a two-month span. We had what we call 'bookshelf files' for every U.S. state and Canadian province and many countries in Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. We had files on groups that have been inactive for 20 years, plus trip files and NTA profile forms from the last century! Now if I can only clean up my office. Anyone need some filing cabinets?"

Marcela Lauková, CTP
Discover Slovakia Tours  |  Lucenec, Slovakia

"During the worst of COVID-19, my family had some moments of no hope, but there were many more times of fun, family spirit, and great food. Those three months were the most intensive time we have ever had together. Most important for my professional life was the time for thinking, because as a tour operator, every minute of my life is usually planned. COVID-19 reminded me that time—both for family and for thinking—is the most precious item I have."

Kevin Murphy, CTP
Open Roads Tour & Travel Solutions  |  Fair Oaks, California

"As I look for business to pick up again next year, I’ve rededicated myself to education. I’m taking a course from the National Interpreters Association and starting a master’s program in recreation, parks, and tourism administration at my local university. Next spring I’m scheduled to teach a course at my alma mater called 'Food & Tourism,' two of my favorite topics. I’m looking forward to my instructors and my future students teaching this old dog some new tricks!"

Maggie Conrad
Best Western Plus Agate Beach Inn  |  Newport, Oregon

"My husband and I worked opposite shifts and have always eaten well at home, but we usually had dinner together only two days a week due to our schedules. He decided to retire, though, and with the closure of restaurants in our area, we started cooking together every night. Restaurants have now reopened, but we have not returned, as the time we spend together has made us closer and is a reminder that we still enjoy each other’s company … after 31 years of marriage."

Jay Smith
Sports Travel and Tours  |  Hatfield, Massachusetts

"I’ve learned how to swim without a float!"

Steve Uelner
Country Travel Discoveries  |  Elm Grove, Wisconsin

"I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on a stack of books in my 'to read when I retire' pile, plus had my arm twisted into joining an adult softball league. My wife and I have visited several county parks for walks with our golden doodle Murphy, and I actually get out of the office most nights at a decent time! Still—I can't wait to get back to the rigors of a full week."

Paul Larsen
Ed-Ventures  |  Rochester, Minnesota

"Lynn and I made a weekend habit of pointing the car in a random direction and driving to wherever it took us: sitting on a bench along the Mississippi and watching the eagles soar, watching our young grandkids play hide-and-seek in an empty school playground, or fishing at a hidden reservoir and catching supper. We discovered the Aroma Pie Shop in nostalgic, tiny Whalan, Minnesota, less than an hour away from where I’ve lived most of my life! Amazing views and back roads. Quiet time in the car together."

Lois Stoltzfus
Amish Experience  |  Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania

"With always having such busy lives and spread all over the country, our family had found it difficult to spend time together. The pandemic gave us the opportunity to use platforms such as Zoom to keep in touch on a weekly basis. Why didn’t we think of this before?! We will certainly keep these weekly reunions going."

Paula Bredberg
R & J Tours  |  Willmar, Minnesota

"Working from home since mid-March has given me a better perspective on life outside of work. I am truly grateful for this gift of time with my husband. I believe my ability to work on self-relaxation and prioritizing is strengthening our relationship during this time of being together all the time, and I will miss that when I go back to working at my office. We have been given this unexpected time of togetherness, and we have chosen to use it as a positive. And it’s working."

Deanne Cunningham
North Dakota Tourism  |  Bismark, North Dakota

"I am a part of a Commerce Education Team, and we have come up with virtual coffee breaks. Employees who want to participate are randomly placed in four-person pods, and someone from their pod schedules their coffee break. They are scheduled through Microsoft Teams so that participants can see their group, and conversations are left to the imagination. I recommend this for everyone in the tourism industry, as it is a great way to see people and have friendly conversations."

Gail Myer
Myer Hotels  |  Branson, Missouri

"When it became obvious that the pandemic would last a while, my wife and I decided that we would focus on improving our fitness and health, spending time on our family, and strengthening our relationship with God. All have been fantastic initiatives."

Top photo by ©Zamurovic/Adobe Stock