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National View: Travel, tourism helping to drive economic recovery

From the column: "Increasing costs don’t mean a death sentence for travel plans. In fact, hitting the road, sky, or sea cost-effectively will help combat climbing prices — so travelers get their island getaway while helping the economy recover here and abroad."

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Two years after the pandemic scrapped many people’s vacation plans, travelers are seeking new experiences and exciting destinations this summer. But there’ve been additional major roadblocks in our return to normalcy, including prices at the gas pump, soaring airline tickets, and inflationary pressure affecting hotels and resorts.

However, these increasing costs don’t mean a death sentence for travel plans. In fact, hitting the road, sky, or sea cost-effectively will help combat climbing prices — so travelers get their island getaway while helping the economy recover here and abroad.

From the editorial: "Every dollar (from visitors) fuels economies locally and beyond, and every percentage-point uptick in revenues from tourism is a testimony to our community’s resilience, hard work, and commitment to success."

How? The tourism and travel industry is a major economic driver. Before the pandemic, the total economic output generated by this industry in the United States was more than $1 trillion and was supported by 9.5 million tourism-related jobs.

This spending affects not only airlines and hospitality groups but also shops, restaurants, and attractions. Thousands of families supported by travel and tourism count on this discretionary spending, which distributes funds among businesses and governments at even the most local levels.

The travel industry is doing its part to encourage domestic and international tourism by providing consumers with a vast marketplace. Through the use of meta-search platforms, online travel agencies, and short-term rental sites, consumers can view all their choices in one place. This pushes airlines, hotels, car-rental companies, and short-term rental operators to compete for the best prices, services, and offerings.

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These transparent online arenas are essential to combating the effect of runaway prices. With the ability to comparison-shop, consumers are ultimately driving prices down. This gives them the power to choose travel opportunities that maximize value while minimizing costs. And the less travelers spend on transportation and lodging, the more money they can spend at their destination on tourism businesses.

Aside from using online marketplaces — Expedia, Vrbo, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, Airbnb, and Booking.com, to name a few — there are several ways consumers can keep travel plans affordable while positively affecting the economy.

Rather than mulling over that picturesque hotel or nonstop flight, overcome escalating prices by booking early to ensure your spot is secure and costs don’t increase. You may also consider booking a fully refundable fare or hotel room to safeguard your funds if an unexpected situation derails your trip. Remaining flexible on location and time can also significantly affect price. Venturing to an area where it’s off-season for tourists can do wonders for your wallet. Have a specific experience — and budget — in mind? Head to a short-term rental platform like Airbnb, where you have greater control over the style, amenities, location, and theme of your accommodations.

While inflation has significantly influenced all industries, including travel and tourism, the current surge in goods and services does not mean consumers must be stuck at home. Taking a proactive approach when planning and using online marketplaces to compare and contrast possibilities provides travelers with trips perfect for their interests and tightened purse strings.

In doing so, the travel industry will continue to recover while also helping recover our economy.

Dan Rene is communications director for the Travel Technology Association (traveltech.org) in Arlington, Virginia.

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Dan Rene

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