experts will be identifying ripple effects of Hurricane Katrina for
months, if not years.
The ripples will
reach from the homeless in New Orleans, to jobless croupiers in
Gulf Coast casinos, to anxious farmers in the Midwest, to motorists
in New England, to politicians in Washington, to insurance
actuaries in London, and on and on.
Somewhere the ripples
will stop, or become so small that we will lose the ability or the
need to measure them.
In the meantime, it
would be worth remembering that not everything that happens after
Katrina will happen because of Katrina.
In the coming weeks
or months, for example, some airlines may be pushed into the past
tense by merger or bankruptcy. Katrina may rightly take part of the
blame, but it bears repeating that some airlines were flirting with
oblivion long before the hurricane season began.
were expecting strong upward pressure on natural gas and other
energy prices this winter, even before the storm.
In short, some
unpleasant things will happen in the travel business and throughout
the U.S. economy in the months ahead, but some of them were going
to happen anyway, Katrina or not.
We hope our
policymakers resist the temptation to blame Katrina for everything
bad that happens for the next year. Blaming Katrina may open doors,
wallets, hearts and minds, but it could also blind us to the
reality of what needs to be done, and why.
" " "
One obvious effect of this
hurricane was to focus attention on homeland security and what that
term really means. Since its creation,
the Department of Homeland Security has been been trying to manage
a broad portfolio of federal responsibilities. Understandably,
security from terrorism has been at the top of the
But it is clear now
that if the city of New Orleans and the port of New Orleans are
going to remain where they are, this nation cannot afford for its
flood control and emergency management systems to be anything other
than state-of-the-art. Because of what is at stake, they have to be
the best. The best in the world.
Travel and tourism is the quintessential
global industry. Our people, our companies and our customers are
And when disaster
strikes, travel and tourism are almost always affected, sometimes
indirectly, sometimes slightly, but often abruptly, harshly and
There are few highs
in this game that match the intensity of the lows. Can you think of
a single event in travel that had a positive impact as dramatic and
immediate as the 9/11 attacks, SARS, the Asian tsunami,
Perhaps its simply
the human condition or the nature of the universe that our good
fortune tends to come in small doses. This seems to magnify the
shock when we hit a wall, and it magnifies the outpouring of
sympathy and generosity that follows.
lines, hotels, car rental companies, motorcoach operators, tour
operators, travel sellers, travel technology firms, travel industry
associations and other travel-related businesses are making various
contributions to the the hurricane relief effort. These
contributions are too numerous to mention here, but readers can get
a sense of the scope of the effort by logging on to www.travelweekly.com or www.travelcompaniescare.org.