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The Benefits are Bigger Than the Challenges

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”

Liza Minnelli sang those words in the film “New York, New York” in 1977, and Frank Sinatra released his own famous recording of the song in 1980. Both these stars, of course, were referring to the Big Apple. But the sentiment expressed in the song applies just as much to today’s tourism industry as it did to 1970s New York.

Life in New York has never been easy (although it’s probably easier now than it was in the gritty ’70s). Anytime I go there, I’m struck by how much more difficult things are in a big city. There’s much more traffic and much less personal space. Everything costs more and takes longer.

And yet each year, millions of travelers visit New York. And many thousands move there, trading the ease of the life they had in smaller places for the dreams they’ll chase in the big city.

Why do so many people make this choice? Because they believe the prize they’ll ultimately find in New York outweighs the challenges they’ll face in getting there.

Like living in New York, working in tourism has never been particularly easy. Ours is an industry that requires unconventional hours, extraordinary flexibility, constant creativity and relentless adaptability. Every time national or global events make news, tourism professionals have to pivot.

Over the past two years, of course, working in tourism has been more difficult than anyone could have anticipated. The lockdowns were brutal. Public policy was confusing and counterproductive. Customers were legitimately scared. And tourism professionals had to navigate wave after wave, challenge after challenge.

Some people didn’t make it. But for those who did, I’ll echo Liza and Frank’s sentiments: If you made it to here, you can make it anywhere.

While COVID hasn’t been eradicated (and never will be), the worst of the pandemic now seems to be fading in the rearview mirror. For those of us who love travel, that’s very good news. And one of the things it means is your customers who love travel are more than ready to get back out there.

Certainly, we still face headwinds, including some that would have seemed very difficult just a few years ago. Gas prices are outrageous. Motorcoach drivers — and many other hospitality service workers — are in short supply. Inflation is pushing the costs of travel to dizzying heights. And as of this writing, the war in Ukraine is causing continued global uncertainty.

In previous eras, these challenges would have walloped the tourism industry. But not today. Tour companies, cruise lines, hotel chains and others report that business is booming. Many are seeing future bookings at unprecedented levels.

The travails of the pandemic taught us an important lesson: We can overcome far more than we ever imagined. And after the storm passes, we find that we haven’t just survived; somehow, through it all, we have become stronger.

So, as you make your travel plans for the rest of 2022 and 2023 — and even as you wrestle with the challenges that remain — remember this: Despite the odds, you’ve made it here. And that means you can make it anywhere.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.

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