The New Year is always a time of hope, as we look upon a new beginning. “Hope springs eternal within the human breast,” even when we see few justifications for optimism. But this year, I do see reasons for optimism for people with a mind to travel. I’ve been keeping a Good News List, and it’s running off the page.
I am well aware that what is good news for one person is often considered bad news by another. It’s become conventional wisdom that the United States is very divided, but I don’t buy that. Sure, there are plenty of things to argue about when I am watching a 24-hour news station. There are whole industries built on that supposed antipathy. But when I am out there moving among people, most of those arguments dissolve into nothing. There are broad areas of agreement that we take for granted. For the most part, people get along surprisingly well. Dissension is the aberration, not the rule. Traveling reassures me of that comforting fact.
My Good News List is directed to travelers, because there is a kinship among people who travel. People who travel learn to love the world, and to love their fellow humans. Their fundamental values tend to develop along some of the same lines. I believe that what is good for travelers is good for the world. Here is some good news:
Travel is Back with a Roar
In 2022, travel came back. Air travel is back to about 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Although the pandemic left us with supply chain problems and staffing shortages in 2022, things are hopefully smoothing out for 2023 as businesses regain their stride.
Inflation has hit travel, as it has hit everything else, but people are so determined to get back out there that the increase in prices has not had much noticeable effect on the demand for travel. An equalizing factor is that the dollar is stronger than it’s been for a long time. That gives American travelers more buying power in other countries.
Travelers are becoming more confident about travel again. A study by the travel consortium Virtuoso showed that travelers are now booking farther ahead than they were in 2019. In a survey of travelers by American Express, 50 percent of respondents said they were already planning their summer 2023 vacations before the end of 2022. This is all feel-good news.
One of the trends that was accelerated by Covid is the trend toward responsible travel. This line of thinking has continued to evolve, from a time when “ecotourism” was sometimes little…