Friday, June 27, 2008

Oil At $140 Means The End Of Tourism

If you're in a foreign country right now, look right, look left, look all around you. Take a good long look. When the few days that remain slip through the hourglass, you will return to the airport that brought you and fly home courtesy of ticket prices paid some time ago. The chances are virtually certain that the country you have just visited will never be visited again by you, certainly not in the same way, and probably not in large numbers in a different way.

The Olympics - I hope you've bought your tickets. Because after the Olympics oil prices will be higher than the level airlines are meant to fly at, I've been predicting $150 by Christmas. It might be $200. The point is, these construction projects we see - malls being built, stadia - it's going to look rather silly in 6 months. South Africa's Fifa World Cup will not be a world cup; it might approximate the equivalent of the rugby tussle between provinces, the Currie Cup. Don't expect South Africans to believe you. They don't know that there's crime, 50% unemployment and an AIDS holocaust in their country, how on earth can they be expect to guess that fuel prices are worth worrying about.

Life is about to become very local. And it will probably slow down as airline staff are layed off, and fewer people zip around on vital transatlantic business meetings (our kids will wonder, what was that all about that you had to fly around the world to shake someone's hand - yes, when you had email and VOIP).

An interesting replacement industry will be farming. Instead of people wandering around with cameras and backpackls and booking into hotels, they will book into hostels and barnyards carrying shovels. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First airlines fail, then supermarkets, then suburbia... I know we want to watch NASCAR and Formula 1, and the Fifa World Cup. I realise this is what people want, what people demand. It's just not going to happen any more.

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