The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is challenging the world. With no vaccine and limited medical capacity to treat the disease, nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPI) are the main strategy to contain the pandemic. Unprecedented global travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders are causing the most severe disruption of the global economy since World War II. With international travel bans affecting over 90% of the world population and wide-spread restrictions on public gatherings and community mobility, tourism largely ceased in March 2020. Early evidence on impacts on air travel, cruises, and accommodations have been devastating. While highly uncertain, early projections from UNWTO for 2020 suggest international arrivals could decline by 20 to 30% relative to 2019. Tourism is especially susceptible to measures to counteract pandemics because of restricted mobility and social distancing. The paper compares the impacts of COVID-19 to previous epidemic/pandemics and other types of global crises and explores how the pandemic may change society, the economy, and tourism. It discusses why COVID-19 is an analogue to the ongoing climate crisis, and why there is a need to question the volume growth tourism model advocated by UNWTO, ICAO, CLIA, WTTC and other tourism organizations.