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Earlier this month we launched our annual package, Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016, where we identify the global trends in travel in 2016 and beyond.
For this trend, we’re looking at the wealth of overseas and domestic tourism opportunities available to many American travelers. If you’re a U.S. citizen with disposable income, your odds of having a stellar year of travel are higher now than they’ve been in at least two decades.
With an economy that’s clawed its way back from the disastrous policies of the Bush II years, the U.S. dollar is stronger now than it’s been in recent memory, and unemployment levels are back to pre-Bush levels. The dollar is now at a 10-year high against the euro, the Brazilian real, Japanese yen, Turkish lira, and many other currencies in desirable places. It’s even improved its position against British pound since the latter’s low in 2009, but better than the preceding 10 years when the rate was as poor as $2 to £1.
But Americans don’t have to go abroad to get a deal. Domestically, oil prices are so low — already down 25 percent year over year — you can get two road trips for the price of one.
Not only is the money situation improving, the few remaining barriers of red tape are coming down, too. Brazil will suspend its reciprocal visa policy for Americans (among others) in a three-month period around the Olympics. Visa-on-arrival and visa-free policies are becoming more of the norm elsewhere, too.
It’s not all sunshine. There’s a refugee crisis stretch-ing from Afghanistan to Berlin and ISIL’s horrific attack in Paris in November is a reminder that the War on Terror hasn’t defeated terrorism.
And then there’s Cuba. After 50-plus years of holding its breath in hopes that doing so would succeed in getting the Castro brothers to leave, the Obama administration tried a new tack in December of last year and announced a thaw in relations that’s already resulted in an ease on visits, banking policies, more charter flights by JetBlue, and ports of call for Carnival. And very soon we’ll likely see commercial flights, too. We’re pretty sure that a few thousand Carnival passengers invading Havana’s streets will upend more than a half-century of Castroism faster than an exploding cigar.