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The ghost city: chronicles of the apocalypse after COVID-19

Maximiliano Emanuel Korstanje (Department of Economics, University of Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Babu George (Department of Economics, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee, USA)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Article publication date: 12 December 2022

Issue publication date: 16 March 2023




The present conceptual paper evinces a new understanding of the present and future of the tourist city in a post-COVID-19 world. The pandemic has wreaked havoc in the tourism industry as well as global trade. The world, at least as we know, is debating the next recovery steps for 2023.


In this conceptual paper, the authors explore the substantial shifts faced by the urban areas during and post-COVID-19 pandemic. The disposed [and imposed] restrictive measures have affected negatively not only mobilities but also the urban landscape. The tourist-city, at least as it was imagined by J. Urry, has invariably set the pace to a ghost-city. In this new landscape, citizens are confined to be at home.


The tourist city has faced substantial changes. The authors dubbed the term ghost city to give some reflections on the radical changes urban zones are experiencing during 2020 and 2021. Classic notions as “the Other,” “globalization” and the “city” are in motion. The borders of some nations are being re-drawn while some radicalized voices and movements flourish.

Research limitations/implications

The authors introduce readers to the literature about the tourist city, which offers a perfect landscape for attraction, consumption and protest. The tourist city has been developed by scholars as a sign of a globalizing process that laid the foundations toward a new understanding of urban zones.

Practical implications

The present paper discusses critically the problem of COVID-19 and its severe restriction of free circulation and the forms in which the city is lived and dwelled. We were pressed to live our proximity through the lens of a screen or using digital media. The basic rights that are historically characterized by the legal architecture of the nation-state – which is based on high mobilities and the right of traveling – were suddenly suspended.


The authors deal with the problems of sociology to study the ghost city, which include not only the dilemmas revolving around the health passport but also the introduction of technology in formalizing the creation of a surveillance society that scrutinizes and, at the same time, entertains modern citizens, in a new culture where the “Other” becomes an undesired guest.


la presente nota intenta explicar el futuro de la ciudad turística en un contexto posterior al COVID-19. Habiendo dicho eso debe destacarse que la pandemia ha hecho estragos en la industria turística como así también en el comercio global. Los especialistas sugieren que el mundo global a los niveles iniciales anteriores a la pandemia se recuperará a mediados de 2023.


el presente trabajo es una discusión conceptual que focaliza en los efectos del COVID-19 en la imagen de la ciudad turística.


la ciudad turística atraviesa por estos días cambios radicales que afectan su naturaleza. Usamos el término ciudad fantasma [ghost city] para referirnos a los efectos socio-culturales a largo alcance de las medidas restrictivas para frenar el avance de la enfermedad. Nociones clásicas como “el Otro,” y la globalización deben ser re-conceptualizadas a raíz de la reconfiguración de las nuevas fronteras y de discursos racistas y radicalizados tendientes a negar a ese “Otro” diferente.


el trabajo introduce a los lectores en la literatura especializada destacando las tensiones entre la ciudad turística y la ciudad como lugar de protesta y negociación. La ciudad turística es una creación directa del proceso globalizador que ha configurado las zonas urbanas.

Implicaciones prácticas

el presente trabajo discute críticamente como la crisis del COVID-19 ha marcado la forma de relacionarnos en la circulación. Estamos forzados a vivir nuestra proximidad por intermedio de las redes digitales, y un televisor, alterando las bases mismas del estado de libre tránsito y los derechos fundamentales a la circulación.


entre unos de los temas más originales que aborda el trabajo se encuentra el pasaporte sanitario, documento emitido por el estado para dar movilidad al sujeto. El pasaporte sanitario transforma no sólo la forma de validad la identidad, sino que introduce la tecnología al servicio de vigilancia del estado sobre el sujeto. En el mundo post COVID-19 el turista se transformado en un huésped indeseado.



The authors wish to thank the Department of Economics University of Palermo, Argentina for all the received support.


Korstanje, M.E. and George, B. (2023), "The ghost city: chronicles of the apocalypse after COVID-19", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 1-12.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, International Tourism Studies Association.

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