The Labor Day weekend is traditionally a sad one for many summer vacationers. People say goodbye to their beach houses, pull their boats out of the water, lock up their summer cabins. Or they say "Arrivederci Roma," and in the next breath, "Back to work!"



For travel professionals, Labor Day offers one of those seasonal punctuation marks that enables us to pause and take stock, a bit like Dec. 31 or Memorial Day.

It was an OK summer. The basic measures of demand have been looking good. Airline load factors remain at historic levels, and hotel occupancy rates, in the 70s, are not far behind.

Despite early summer floods in Europe, river cruising has stayed on its growth spurt, and while ocean cruising has been challenged by some negative images, it remains an attractive value for consumers and a valuable product for retailers.

Events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East continue to produce worrisome headlines, but despite some ominous government warnings in early August, the peak season was not a victim of direct disruptions from external events.

Leisure travel still has its soft spots, but the summer has helped to build momentum. This could turn out to be a pretty good year.
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