Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Lines
Is the current travel season an especially slow one? Are there plenty of empty seats on both domestic and international flights? A number of old-timers in travel will claim that travel is always slow in a presidential election year, when national politics captures the attention of millions, a phenomenon known in the trade as the "election year curse." And they cite travel statistics from the last fifty years that seem to validate that slogan. Travel, especially international travel by Americans, has historically fallen off in nearly all presidential election years.
Obviously, there aren't yet any firm statistics to support or refute the claim of a travel decline; and the interim figures announced by local tourist authorities aren't always to be believed. Thus, a recent claim by the Caribbean Tourist Organization that travel to those islands in the first three months of this year was the highest in history, should be cautiously approached. When you consider the mild winter weather in the U.S. during that recent season (which certainly didn't promote tourism to the Caribbean), and the negative publicity attending the Zika virus in the Tropics, it's no wonder that a great many U.S. commentators are taking the boastful claim of soaring tourism with a grain of salt.
By contrast, there is anecdotal information that supports the conclusion that international tourism by Americans is currently off. I have heard from several people that they recently flew either to or from Europe on planes that were half empty. I have read definitive statements from hoteliers in Paris that their occupancy was recently 25% less than usual. And like you, like all of us, I have read countless news reports that tourism has virtually ended to Turkey, Tunisia, Belgium, and Egypt, and been severely damaged by more recent terrorist attacks in Israel. The drop-off in tourism to these once-popular destinations must reflect a general decline in worldwide tourism, especially from the United States.
So what's the conclusion to be drawn from all of this? It is that tourism has become more favorable to Americans than previously because of an excess of airline and hotel capacity, that airfares have been pressured downward and that hotels are undoubtedly more lightly occupied than before. When the nation is focused on political conventions in late July and on the Summer Olympics in Rio in early August, may be the best of all times to enjoy the rewards of tourism.