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Changes ahead for travelers.

Business travel largely will be unnecessary, but people will do it anyway, forecast futurists Peter E. Tarlow and Mitchell J. Muehsam. Advances in visual telephones and in improved computer networking will decrease the need for business travel, saving both money and time, they indicated to the World Future Society.

"Business people will no longer be required to travel from one spot to another to close deals. Rather, they'll negotiate 'face to face' via electronic conferencing and sign contracts despite being physically separated by thousands of miles. Similarly, families divided by great distances will remain electronically connected with each other."

Meanwhile, travel will become faster, cheaper, and more comfortable, and, as the world becomes more interconnected, corporations will want to send even their lower-level executives on international fact-finding missions. One reason costs will come down is that individuals will be able to make their transportation and lodging arrangements themselves on their personal computers. Another is that robots will perform a multitude of services such as greeting guests, babysitting, and providing security. "While some guests may resent the loss of the human touch, robots will allow travel industries to offer more consistent service, working tirelessly through peak seasons and retiring uncomplainingly into storage during the off-season."

More efficient transportation will give travel a boost. By 2010, new automobiles in the U.S. will have an average fuel efficiency rating of 36.9 miles per gallon, the Department of Energy predicts. This greater fuel economy will enhance cars' popularity. Automobiles will continue to be the major form of transportation well into the first part of the next century.

Yet another reason for anticipating more growth for travel and tourism--already generating two trillion dollars in annual sales--is aging. The number of persons 65 and older has grown faster than the general U.S. population. The Travel Industry Association of America estimates that, by the year 2000, the elderly will comprise approximately one-fourth of the nation. "This group will not only have the most available free time of any segment of the population, but it will also have the greatest amount of disposable income," Tarlow and Muehsam point out. "The financially and physically able elderly will significantly increase the demand for leisure travel."
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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