But before then, he forecasts something bolder: “Summer 2022 will be the busiest travel season ever,” he tells Bloomberg, speaking over Zoom from his home in Wyoming.
“We’ve been talking about pent-up demand for a long time, but until now there have been too many restrictions in place for people to do too much with it,” he explains. With Europe expected to relax restrictions, mask mandates falling even in liberal U.S. states, and borders reopening in parts of the world such as Australia that had not yet welcomed back international tourism, many pandemic-era travel barriers will start to recede.
It’s not just the ease of travel that will portend its comeback; it’s the combination of high volumes and high prices.
“Airlines are expecting to be back to historic levels by August,” Kern continues. “And yes, prices will be high. But at this point, I think people are willing to pay whatever the hell it takes to get away and go to a place they want to go.” After all, he explains, a part of pent-up demand is pent-up savings—people tired of spending on material home goods are ready to shell out for experiences, be it in cash or loyalty points that have been gathering dust since 2020.
As for where they might be going, Kern is looking at cities. “People are tired of going to national parks. They want to go to New York and go to a Broadway show,” he says, adding that cities in Europe with loads of cultural attractions and dining options—think Florence, Paris, London—will also sustain enormous demand.