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An international travel boom is coming

I was reading up on vaccine passports this morning. What is clear is that countries are scrambling to figure this out right now, though I understand Israel is already up and running, as is South Korea, which has a system built on top of the blockchain. (This feels like a great use case for the technology.)

What is also clear (see above charts) is that many countries are highly motivated to figure this out sooner rather than later. The geographies that are weighted toward tourism dollars don’t want to miss out on yet another summer travel season. And given how dominant Europe is in terms of international arrivals, I suspect that they might end up leading the way in terms of rolling out some form of internationally accepted passport system. I would imagine that true universality is going to be a challenge though.

Domestic travel in the US has already bounced back in a significant way. Looking at TSA screenings for the first half of this month (May 2021), travel right now is at about 70% of 2019 volumes. This is in comparison to just under 10% last year (May 2020). Once international travel gets streamlined in the second half of this year, I’m sure the same thing will happen on that front.

One of my predictions at the beginning of this year was that we would see an explosion in global travel, probably in the second half of the year. I stand by that view. Many/most of us have spent the last year in various forms of lockdown and many/most of us have spent the last year with almost no work-life balance (a symptom of WFH).

According to some recent data from home website Zillow, the company saw traffic skyrocket in 2020 from 1.5 billion visits to 9.6 billion visits (compared to the year prior). This is people looking at homes, and, in many cases, looking at homes that are more expensive than what they currently own. Real estate websites, you could argue, became a form of escapism last year, which is something that travel is normally pretty good at.

People are restless and ready to unplug. I reckon that’s going to happen in a meaningful way later this year.

Charts: Financial Times

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