Is Economic Armageddon Good For Travel?

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Global markets are in upheaval, the financial sector is in shambles, and people are genuinely worried about the possibility of a Depression-like scenario in the near future, which only begs the question: So what does this mean for my next trip?

It’s no surprise that plucky editors across the board have jumped on the how-does-the-economic-turmoil-affect-travel bandwagon. The NY Times is reporting a 10% drop in airline passengers as well as a drop in the number of investment bankers schmoozing clients at the Ritz-Carlton (boo-hoo). The Wall Street Journal is reporting a drop in high-end bookings like those in Vail (hmm . . . I wonder who’s cancelling those trips?) and in increase in the number of hotels slashing rates from Bora Bora to Aruba.

But on the very bright side, for the rest of us who are not likely to be jetting away to Bora Bora or booking weekend getaways at the Ritz anytime soon, there’s actually quite a bit of good news as far as budget travel is concerned. For Americans at least, our pitiful dollar is now inching away from its dismal standing amongst the world’s currencies and is slowly gaining traction, making the U.S. seem less like one giant discounted Wal-Mart to the rest of the world. This is good news for weary (and broke) international travelers from America. The Euro and Pound are both back at 2007 levels ($US1 = €.73 and $US1 = £.57) and there are plenty of places you can now visit that may have been out of the question only a year ago.

For example, this article points out that Iceland’s financial meltdown means big savings for outsiders (sorry Iceland, I know this is not exactly good news for you, but at least you can still take comfort in being the happiest people on Earth — see it’s not all bad). There are now some great deals in the Caribbean. Also, as already pointed out, the weakening of the Euro means that you may actually be able to sleep indoors during your next trip to the Continent. Other destinations across the world have suddenly become very affordable too (” . . . The dollar is up 24 percent in South Africa, 14 percent in both Brazil and Chile, 18 percent in India, 14 percent in Thailand, 13 percent in Australia, and 15 percent in New Zealand”).

So my advise here? Ignore economic troubles and travel instead. If you’re going to lose money, you might as well do it yourself doing something you love.

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