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An Angry Airbnb, Cattle-Car Airfares, Trump's Impact on Travel, and Colombia's Truce: Four Major New Developments in Travel | Frommer's Sandra/Flickr

An Angry Airbnb, Cattle-Car Airfares, Trump's Impact on Travel, and Colombia's Truce: Four Major New Developments in Travel

Arthur Frommer weighs in on four news developments that could affect travelers.

As we approach a new year, a battle rages between Airbnb and the cities of New York, San Francisco, Barcelona, and Berlin, all of which have passed legislation designed to reduce the short-term apartment-renting services of Airbnb. In an unusually combative speech delivered by an Airbnb executive, the rental company has claimed that politicians in all four cities will utlimately "come around," so popular are Airbnb's services. Nonetheless, travelers to the above four cities should be careful to confine their rentals to a spare bedroom in an apartment whose owner remains in residence, rather than an entire apartment. Spare rooms continue to be legally rented in New York, San Francisco, Barcelona, and Berlin.

Probably the most important new trend in travel is the decision by the four big "legacy carriers"—Delta, United, American, and Southwest—to create a rock-bottom-cheap "basic economy" airfare to compete with the lower prices offered by such budget carriers as Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier. Delta has already adopted such a fare category, and United has just announced that in the first quarter of 2017, it too will offer a cheaper "basic economy" fare (costing less than a normal economy fare). Its purchasers will not be permitted to choose their seats or be assured of sitting next to a companion, and they will not be permitted to board with a carry-on piece of luggage other than one small enough to fit under their seat. Finally, they will will also be the last to board the plane. American and Southwest have announced similar plans.

Meanwhile, the greatest current concern of people in the travel industry is whether the accession of Donald Trump to the presidency will reduce the volume of international travel, both by foreign citizens who would normally vacation in the United States and by American visitors feeling increasingly unwelcome abroad—especially in Mexico. Already, international travel to the U.S. seems to have slowed because of a strong U.S. dollar and a sluggish European economy. If foreigners—especially foreigners from Muslim countries—feel unwelcome in the U.S., their numbers may sharply decline. The same with respct to U.S. citizens traveling abroad. If protectionist policies cause America to be disliked abroad, our international travel may suffer. Only time will tell.

Finally (and on a happier note), it now appears that the population of Colombia will ratify the revised truce agreement that recently was entered into between the government of that South American country and the insurgent group ("FARC") that has fought it for many years. Since peace will probably now descend on that beautiful nation, and especially upon its standout cities of Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena, an unusually attractive destination has been added to those considered by us American vacationers.