Tourism life in the central district of Mashhad, during the third peak of COVID-19 pandemic

Document Type : Article extracted From phd dissertation


1 Khayyam university,Motahari sq,Rafiee Blvd,Imam Ali Expy

2 Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Planning, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

3 َProfessor of Geography and Urban Planning Faculty of Geography University of Tehran.Iran

4 Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Planning Faculty of Geography University of Tehran. Iran


Extended Abstract
The religious pilgrimage site in the main core of Mashhad, which is well-considered as the main social and tourist gathering stocks with tangible and intangible heritage attractions, provides reasonable tourism, business, and economic development opportunities. With the outbreak of COVID-19, it left irreparable effects on the dynamic and 24-hour urban life of the central area, and the balance between the capabilities of the environment and the community was disturbed by the number of tourism activities.

According to the practical purposes and based on the nature of this research, the descriptive-analytical method has been used. The main approach is analyzing quantitative and qualitative data based on using the univariate Chi-square and Wilcoxon tests. In this regard, the statistical population included domestic tourists – including the 384 residents of Mashhad. They are randomly selected using the Cochran formula in the third peak of the COVID-19 pandemic (winter 2021). In order to achieve our research goals, one main questionnaire was planned in six social, cultural, economic, environmental and health, physical, and transportation dimensions to evaluate and re-evaluate the research. This specific questionnaire includes descriptive questions, multiple-choice and short answers, and our research data were collected through systematic random sampling. Then, the relationships between descriptive statistical data such as tables, graphs, etc., and the univariate Chi-square and Wilcoxon tests were analyzed by SPSS statistical software.

Results and discussion
In order to analyze the change, the tourism industry in the central district of Mashhad and the presence of people before and after the COVID-19 pandemic
• after this outbreak;
The rate of outdoor activities such as walking have been studied with the support of the univariate Chi-square test.
• The quantitative rate of the presence of people is decreased after the outbreak of COVID-19;
• Social security has declined due to the forced shutdown and change in business hours, which means that the outbreak of Coronavirus has some effects on social security;
• The number of visits to commercial centers, shopping malls, and holy shrines dropped, window shopping, etc., are decreased dramatically;
• Using public transportation has been reduced after the COVID-19 pandemic;
• The rate of visiting the parks, monuments, historical and religious sites are decreased significantly;
• The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemics are inevitable in the economy, jobs and businesses;
• The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are remarkable on the daily and nightlife of the central district of Mashhad;
• The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are notable for the less participation of individuals in rituals and religious festivals in the central district of Mashhad. Based on a questionnaire, people do not prefer participating in these or even observing the health protocols.

The cultural structure of communities and the historical contexts of a city are two valuable sources of its heritage that have suitable capacities to use and boost its cultural tourism. In this term, this development gives residents a new prosperous life and creates a new social and economic atmosphere for tourists. But unfortunately, some factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the third peak, failure to comply with the health protocols, economic sanctions, and the directorial decisions have damaged the urban tourism life. The findings show that the health policy observing health protocols while creating specific opportunities in the city in terms of the development of rituals and traditional festivals increases the rate of people’s participation and presence (residents and tourists) in the central district of Mashhad. But, incomplete infrastructure and insufficient view of urban management are barriers to activating and growing these capacities.
The impact of vital factors on the threat to urban tourism life which contribute to decreasing the level of prosperity of the central district of Mashhad and changing the trend of urban tourism in the third peak. Mentioned by people are:
1- The COVID-19 pandemic, failure to follow health protocols such as not wearing a mask, crowd and congestion, and lack of social distancing in religious and commercial spaces in the central district of Mashhad (environmental and health dimension) with the quantitative rate of 39.15 %;
2- Inflation, financial difficulties (economic dimension) with the quantitative rate of 38.95 %;
3- The change of business hours, the nightly traffic restriction (social dimension).

Overall, urban management with reasonable and appropriate planning for any mentioned cases is able to redesign and revitalize the condition of the central district of Mashhad. Some of these suggestions are:
• Implement some policies to further comply and follow health protocols by local and tradespeople in this specific area;
• Appropriate management in ritual and religious ceremonies without any contact between individuals and the environment;
• Financial support from the government;
• Creating urban, social, and welfare services for security reasons;
• Retrospect the program of the public transportation network and control the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.