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If you were writing a letter on April 6, 2025, exactly five years from now, about what happened to travel industry in these intervening five years, what would you write in the most hopeful and meaningful version of it? What would your letter-from-the-future say, if you were to envision it now?
That essentially was the question I posed on my social media feeds (Twitter/Linkedin/Facebook) this weekend and got a slew of responses from people inside and outside of the travel industry. You can read the responses by clicking on the links.
I added my take on what the letter would be: “Mine would be about how radical localism became the way travel industry came back, people began to appreciate their rural areas around cities and local small businesses in tourism/hospitality thrived as a result.”
Radical localism in everything, not just in travel, something all of us by not being able to travel are uniquely attuned to. We know so much more about our immediate neighborhoods for the first time in a long time, especially those of us living in anonymous big cities like New York City. As the world opens up again, whenever that happens, a revival of our immediate and near surroundings hopefully should be priority. That is the travel I would like see. We may even see a revival of the Great American Road Trip.
The last three paragraphs from Arundhati Roy’s incredible essay in FT over the weekend got me thinking along these lines:
Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.
Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.
This pandemic is a portal for the travel industry, the most consequential industry sector in the world, as the world is finding out in the deafening silence of a grounded planet. What would the new world of travel look like for us? I would love to hear from you, businesses large and small, especially small. I know so many of you travel professionals are in so much pain and hurt, but lets try and get out of our immediate worries in our heads and bring our most expansive selves to what we want to happen from here on.
Send us your letter-from-the-future excerpts at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will run best ones here on Skift, with your permission of course.