24
03/2021

The Revenge of Tourism

One of the wilder news items I’ve come across is a financial report:    “Based on the expert analysis and our database of 480+ CA industries, IBISWorld presents a list of the Fastest Growing Industries in Canada by Revenue Growth (%) in 2021.”     After Covid mugged Tourism, kicked us the ground, stole our wallets, and insulted our mothers, these analysts are predicting a remarkable return.
Call it:  The Revenge of Tourism:  This time, it’s personal.

The Top 5 Industries:

  1. Scheduled Air Transportation in Canada:  161% Growth
  2. Travel Agencies in Canada:  93.2%
  3. Foreign Currency Exchange Services in Canada 62.0%
  4. Taxi & Limousine Services in Canada45.4%
  5. Hotels & Motels in Canada 32.3%

The theory goes like this:  Following a similar pattern from previous pandemics –  most notably the Spanish Flu a century ago – we’ll put Covid to bed, gingerly at first, and then with more confidence.  After lockdowns and restrictions, after having no events or functions or festivals or parties, there’s going to be a social explosion.  Consider ticker tape victory parades for the soul, as the entire planet blows off its collective steam.  Some travel experts are already warning the hospitality industry to expect bad behaviour from their guests, because everyone is going to be reaching for that extra drink, saying:  “you know, what the hell!”    I mean, normally, we’d wait, or hesitate, or think about tomorrow, but after a year of no tomorrows, who cares?   Heaving celebrations are expected, sexual norms will be relaxed, decadence and hedonism will reach new heights. Romance, adventure, pampering, relaxation, partying – threading it all together is Tourism, which explains the wild growth predicted above.   As government financial support filters through the economy (most notably the $1.9 trillion relief package in the US,) we’re about to enter a bull market for the ages.  The horrors of Trumpism have somehow been averted, the masses are wising up to the dangers and ultimate folly of social media.  Trade wars have been put on the backburner, and even though China and Russia continue to flex their bulging muscles – and quagmires exist in Myanmar and other failed states – optimism deserves to abound.

I personally believe we’ll look back on this decade as one of the most exciting, innovative and positive of the century.  2001 gave us a disaster, 2008 a meltdown, 2016 a disastrous meltdown. 2020 was the turning point, but the pandemic will be the accelerant for many positive social, technological, professional, and environment shifts that would not have occurred otherwise.  It’s been a slog and yes, the suffering has been tremendous.  While the long-term impact may be devastating for some, others will find the silver linings so thick they’ll be able to skate them.  After wobbling thanks to explosive and largely unanticipated growth, the Great Reset has allowed global tourism to take stock, buckle up, and luck avoid the unsustainable mistakes of overtourism.   The focus will shift to quality over quantity:  more magic, less line-ups.  All this travel will also make the world smaller, kinder and closer. As we all went through the pandemic together, we’ll emerge with something we’ve lacked for ages:  a common purpose and global identity.  We all went through it, what bigger ice-breaker do you need?

You can’t do what I do and not be an optimist.  And yet, there’s one tiny fact most exuberant forecasters are omitting.  The bigger the roar, the harder the fall.  The pattern of pandemics is a blazing era of growth, followed by an inevitable market crash.   A century ago, the roaring twenties led to the Great Depression, which left a scar on all the decades that followed.  It makes me recall the Pharoah’s dream in the Bible’s story of Joseph.  Expect seven fertile years, followed by seven years of hardship.   We’re at the cusp of an extraordinary period of success, but it will end, and it will end hard.  But let’s worry about that in a couple years.  For now: get the vaccine, wait for the gates to open, and let’s prove the analysts of IbisWorld right.

 

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