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The problematic post-Covid angle

The Problematic Post-Covid Angle

Eater is a website which I usually rate highly. But in its Where to Eat in 2022 article, the justification for Kuala Lumpur’s inclusion was predominantly that its food scene was vibrant again post-pandemic.

Even if we ignore the probability that this pandemic is far from over, this reasoning is problematic. Why? Because it’s true of almost every global city with a half-decent food scene. Why focus on Kuala Lumpur? 

Beyond some woolly talk of increased home delivery and ghost kitchens — factors which are again true in numerous other cities — Eater’s correspondent failed to answer that.

I raise this because “it’s great again after Covid” is also an angle I’ve frequently been pitched in recent months. To a degree, it makes sense. Travel editors always ask “why now?” and here’s their answer: city/island/country A was rubbish, and now it’s great again. That’s why now!

The issue is that when the same is also true of cities/islands/countries B to Z, that angle loses all power. In this case, it’s also a bit of a no-brainer: surely the average reader would guess that most places were resurgent, or becoming so, without needing to be told so. And a travel story should ideally tell the reader something they don’t know – something informative.

The trick here is to make your destination stand out. Is it emerging from the pandemic with a completely changed food/art/etc scene? Has it announced a plan to go about tourism differently — this is the case in Amsterdam, for example — and in an interesting way? Is there a substantial change, eg hotels now open all winter; visas now heaps easier to acquire? Or has it stolen a march simply because its nearest rivals have fallen behind, due perhaps to prolonged closure or the loss of direct flights? 

As always, I hope this is helpful and constructive, not just ranty. I’m off to dream about Guadalajara’s tortas ahogadas – which Eater tells me are “carnitas sandwiches drowned in a fiery salsa of tomatoes and lots of chile de árbol.”

What Richard thinks…

“As a travel angle, this news from St Helena is probably limited in strength — but it’s tremendously important, nonetheless.”

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