This weekend, wherever the location, whatever time zone, thoughts, minds, hearts, and emotions across the globe are united by the remembrance of this September 11th being ten years on. In ways,it is hard to believe it was a decade ago. On that day, in those moments, time stood still as we watched the world change forever. In an instant, incomprehensibly, irreversibly, indelibly.
Fast forward 2011. Over the past days and weeks, extensive analysis has gone on around how the traveling world, and tourism industry, was profoundly impacted by the events of 9/11. Initially, having been shaken to the core, fear grounded millions. The numbers in terms of industry losses, from revenues to margins to employees to time, are staggering. From that day a decade ago, the ability to travel has become increasingly challenged.
Increased security measures, increased visa requirements, increased airport hassles, increased time and effort to make the trip, and increased concerns around “what ifs” have stripped the journey of such joy. As a result, the global travel industry is on constant watch of the numbers and the continued risks. With continued waves of challenge to the global travel industry, one would not be blamed for thinking that the welcome mat should just be rolled up and put away.
No question about it – the ability of travelers has decreased.
Yet, just as profoundly as the ability to travel has decreased, the desire to travel increased. And it continues to, year after year after year. One of the most critical days in the history of the tourism industry in terms of fueling the desire to travel? 9/11.
On that day, a decade ago, a wave of awakening spread across the globe. In an instant, what is important became clear. The desire to do things, do things differently, and do things now, increased. With that, the role of travel became crystal clear for those determined to turn the important into the actioned.
There is no question about it. Despite a decade of geo-political, economic, and natural challenges, there is an ever-growing desire in people across the globe to be able to:
• be with their loved ones ;
• be true to their dreams;
• turn ideas into real opportunities;
• learn about other people, places, cultures, and ideologies; and
• feel a part of a bigger picture.
That is one of the very real impacts of 9/11 on the global travel industry – it brought us closer together, even though it is often harder to get together (because of the need for increased security, etc).
The act of traveling may have increased in time, cost, and hassles in getting from A to B, but even that has not decreased, at a macro level, the desire to get there. What is important outweighs what is involved.
In the analysis of the past decade of travel, as important as it is to understand how the HOW has changed, it is also vital that we look closely at the WHY. Why did 940 million people travel internationally in 2010, despite all of the financial obstacles and body-scanning objects put in their path? Why has 2011 seen 4% growth thus far?
This is the essence of the power of tourism: the more we understand the world, with all of its good and bad, the more we want, and need, to get closer. We need to travel.
And so this weekend, as we pause to say a prayer in memory of that moment, may our hearts and minds be connected by an appreciation of how the travel industry works, every day, to keep the world connected.