A New Golden Age of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality

An Acceleration with No Signs of Slowing: Hotels Looking at a Golden Age


It took six years for the airline and travel industries to recover from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And many expected a similar fate in the wake of the pandemic.

After all, lockdowns were measured in months, not days or weeks. Hotels became quarantine zones. Airlines operated at near-zero capacity. Remote work and virtual meetings proliferated faster than the virus itself. Futurists placed their bets on the rise of the metaverse.

2020 was bad. Really bad. $1.3 trillion loss in revenue bad. But then 2021 happened. Things started to normalize. 2022 came. Things started to feel truly normal for the first time in ages.

And here we are, halfway through 2023, and we’ve all but forgotten that just three short years ago, no one could leave their home. It’s surreal.

Normalcy? Or A New Golden Age for Travel?

But have things truly gotten back to normal in the travel industry? Yes. In fact, The World Travel & Tourism Council sees 2023 as a year close to full recovery. And one industry leader sees the sector entering a ‘New Golden Age of Travel’.

This according to a recent article from Lodging Magazine published in May profiling President & CEO of Hilton Chris Nassetta, who recently took the reins at the U.S. Travel Association. In the article titled “Stamping His Hotel Legacy,” Nassetta discussed his rise, his plans for the U.S. Travel Association, and his predictions for the travel industry in the next few years.

Speaking with Lodging’s Dennis Nessler, Nassetta highlighted the big gains in the industry. Air travel was back to 95% of 2019’s numbers last year. Hotel occupancy is trending upward as well.

“We were in a ‘Golden Age of Travel’ pre-pandemic as people began prioritizing experiences over things and everything we went through collectively during the pandemic only accelerated that trend,” said Nassetta. “Now we’re in what I call the ‘next Golden Age of Travel,’ and that acceleration shows no signs of slowing.”

Where Travel Goes, Economies Follow

After all, a thriving travel sector creates broader opportunity—a fact highlighted in our look at Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities Report—and summed up by Nassetta:

“Ultimately, travel’s recovery is the nation’s recovery, which makes U.S. Travel’s efforts critically important as all segments of the economy rebound from the pandemic, led in many ways by the strength of leisure, business, and international inbound travel.”

2022 marked the first year in which nearly everyone felt safe to travel. Conferences took place without restrictions. It was a year for ‘revenge travel’. Remote workers became digital nomads.

And with the comeback came economic impact. Hospitality and leisure hiring represented 30 percent of all new private sector jobs in 2022—and drove job creation across the board.

In fact, looking at the list of Best Performing Cities list, some of the biggest winners were towns that relied in part on tourism. A brief look at the biggest gainers among large cities, and you’ll see Asheville, Las Vegas, and Myrtle Beach all rising more than 85 spots on the list. Pair that with destination cities in the top 10 like Austin and Nashville, and it’s easy to see how travel drives everything forward.

What’s Next? Success in the Post-Post-Pandemic Era

As the head of the USTA, Nassetta is looking to break down barriers that still remain in the travel space. Visa processing in the US is slow. Business travel hasn’t and may not ever return to its pre-pandemic peak. Same goes for inbound travel—especially from China.

For hospitality brands, success lies in being able to create your own tailwinds. How? By innovating and creating experiences that cater to the post-post-pandemic traveler.

From catering to the digital nomad to creating a space built for wellness-minded travelers, a little innovation in your physical spaces can go a long way. Lifestyle hotels will continue to drive traffic. And uniqueness will remain a selling point.

Create Unforgettable Experiences with Morgan Li

At Morgan Li, we help hospitality brands create unforgettable experiences. From boutique and lifestyle hotels to national brands, we have the experience and expertise to help you deliver for your guests.

With custom wood and metal furniture manufacturing, fixtures, and graphics capabilities, we’re ready to help you bring your vision to life—on time, on budget, and just like the rendering.

Learn more about who we are, what we do, and who we’ve helped—and when you’re ready to partner with a company who’s more than made, drop us a line.


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