Siirry sisältöön
Barriers and borders disrupting our current living

We may think that the world is connected, but there are many invisible barriers and borders caused by climate change, the pandemic and Brexit – forces wreaking havoc on our lives. These boundaries are difficult to take down and some time is needed.


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 05.11.2021

Finns fear that they will not get their morning coffee. Brits are afraid that Christmas has been cancelled. Travellers around the world are noticing that crossing borders is not as easy as it used to be.

What these issues have in common are shortages and barriers caused by climate change, the pandemic and Brexit – forces wreaking havoc on our lives. Geopolitics, geography, health, climate, trade and economy are closely tied together. We may think that the world is connected, but there are many invisible barriers and borders affecting our lifestyle.

Trade and consumption: Supply chain crisis

The COVID pandemic along with the intensified forces of the climate crisis have brought a disruption to the interconnected and globalised world. The world is facing acute shortages in the supply chain and prices are rising. During the various phases of the pandemic, factories shut down in many places and the impacts are still felt globally.

Coffee, chips and components have become hot topics in the news. Lockdowns in Vietnam and frost in Brazil – two of the biggest producers of coffee beans – have increased the price of coffee. The shortage of components and chips is shutting down automobile factories in Europe and delaying car production. Brexit-related lack of truck drivers and cheap labour from Eastern Europe is threatening the fuel and food supply in the U.K.

To make matters worse, cargo containers are stuck at major ports around the world as there are not enough people and equipment to load and unload them. Much of the movement of cargo has been further threatened by COVID restrictions. The pandemic has affected world trade in unprecedented ways. Bottlenecks and barriers are impacting the daily lives of consumers: Shelves in supermarkets are empty and delivery times for cars and consumer electronics are extended indefinitely. We should start planning for Christmas early this year.

Travel and aviation: Geopolitical forces and health regulations

We often think that airplanes can fly over borders and conflict zones. That is not quite true. Seven years ago, airlines started going around eastern Ukraine after the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 was shot down there. This year, air routes became longer due to the unstable situation in Afghanistan. It was no longer safe to fly over the country, so airlines have rerouted planes around the borders.

Whereas Doha and Dubai have gained ground as pandemic aviation hubs, the famous Asian gateways of Singapore and Hong Kong have effectively shut down with health-related travel restrictions. Doha has overtaken Singapore’s Changi as the best airport in the world, Qatar Airways took the highest position on the World Airline Awards from Singapore Airlines.

It is amazing how fragile free movement and international mobility is when a health scare arises. Boundaries are erected and they are difficult to take down. Even for such an export-oriented economy as Singapore.

Climate and health: Responsible choices and tourism restart

Even before the pandemic, flying for business and leisure was frowned upon due to the emissions it causes. Flight shame was replaced by pandemic travel shame: only irresponsible people travelled abroad. If you happened to venture outside of the borders of your home country, better not post anything on social media!

Now the opposite stands. People are happy to show that they are supporting the travel and tourism industry by flocking to foreign destinations again. The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has been actively promoting the restart of tourism and is calling for a reopening of borders. Tourism as an industry lost over 60 million jobs and 50 % of its contribution to the global GDP during the pandemic.

However, many borders are erected in the minds of people: fear of viruses, fear of distant places and people. It may take a while to settle back to the next normal.


  • AlJazeera. Major airlines reroute flights to avoid Afghan airspace. Read at, October 2021.
  • CNN Business. The global chip shortage is going from bad to worse. Read at, October 2021.
  • Fast Company. Why coffee prices are skyrocketing. Read at, October 2021.
  • The Guardian. The Guardian view on ‘flight shame’: face it – life must change. Read at, October 2021.
  • The Guardian. Supply chain crisis., October 2021.
  • The Guardian. Supply chain crisis. Backlog of cargo ships at southern California ports reaches an all time high. Read at, October 2021.
  • The Guardian. Supply chain crisis. The empty shelves crisis isn’t just down to Covid and Brexit. Read at, October 2021.
  • Politico. Europe’s looming truck driver gap undermines UK appeals. Read at, October 2021.
  • Skytrax World airline awards. Read at, October 2021.
  • Skytrax World airport awards. Read at, October 2021.
  • The Washington Post. Travel shaming: People are being shamed for their pandemic trips. Read at, October 2021.
  • World Travel and Tourism Council. Global Economic Impact and Trends 2021. Read at, October 2021.