The strict quarantine measures employed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic have led the global tourism industry to a complete halt, disrupting the livelihoods of millions. The economic importance of beach tourism for many destinations has led many governments to reopen tourist beaches, as soon as the number of infection cases decreased. The objective of this paper is to provide a scientific basis for understanding the key issues for beach tourism management in these circumstances. These issues include risk perception, environmental considerations directly related to beaches and COVID-19, and management strategies designed to limit the risk of contagion on the beach. The contribution of this paper lies in its interdisciplinary approach to delivering the findings from the latest studies, highly relevant for beach tourism, in psychology, health science, and environmental science (often in preprint and in press format). Particular attention was given to identifying the knowledge gaps evident in the areas of COVID-19 risk perception, with the drivers explaining the risk-taking behavior and the protective strategies employed by beachgoers. Gaps were also found in areas such as the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in bathing waters and the sand, the potential of contaminated sand being a viable route of transmission, and the impact of the use of chemical disinfectants on the marine environment and on bathers. The paper identifies research prospects in these areas, additionally pointing out other questions such as new carrying capacity methods, the opportunity given by COVID-19 in estimation of the impacts of visitation and beach-litter.
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