Implications for Hospitality and Travel: Seniors are not only the fastest growing segment of the population, they are the wealthiest. Few will be up to making an assault on Mt. Everest, but almost anyone can take a cruise or fly to Paris or Orlando for a long weekend with Mickey and the rest of the Disney gang. Fine dining, a tour of the links at St. Andrew’s, or a visit to the tables in Vegas will appeal to some seniors and soon-to-be seniors.
As the older populations grow, the travel industry can only expand with them. In the process, it is likely to become more stable and less seasonal. Unlike the rest of us, most seniors can travel whenever the impulse strikes. Often, they do so when prices are down and crowds are thinner. In recent years, their off-season travel has begun to smooth the cyclical downturn typical of the hospitality and travel industry. Seniors will never eliminate seasonality, but the industry will find it less painful than in the past.
4. Mass migration is redistributing the world’s population.
There are nearly 100 million international migrant workers in the world, according to the United Nations. About 30 million live in Europe, 20 million in Africa, and 18 million in North America. These figures include only the workers themselves, not their dependents. About 4 million people immigrated permanently to the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2005, 10.4 percent more than the year before. Immigration to Western Europe from Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent continues despite controls enacted in the wake of terrorist attacks. Immigration is quickly changing the ethnic composition of the U.S. population. By 2050, the number of Latinos in the U.S. will double, to 24.5 percent of the population.
Assessment: As native workforces shrink in most industrialized lands, economic opportunities will draw people from the developing world to the developed in growing numbers. Thus, this trend will continue for at least the next generation.
Implications: Impoverished migrants will place a growing strain on social-security systems in the industrialized countries of Europe and North America. Similar problems will continue to afflict the urban infrastructures of China and India. Remittances from migrants to their native lands are helping to relieve poverty in many developing countries. Globally, these payments exceeded US$230 billion in 2005, according to the World Bank.
Significant backlashes against foreign migrants, such as the skinhead movement in Europe, will be seen more frequently in the years ahead. They will appear even in the most peaceful lands. For example, in Scandinavia, resentment against foreign workers is strong, in part because they can return to their native lands after three years of employment and collect a pension equal to the minimum wage for the rest of their lives.
• Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the rail bombings in London and Madrid, the large number of Muslim immigrants in Britain, France, and other European lands has inspired suspicion, and some persecution.
• Unfortunately, suspicion is to some extent justified. A tiny minority of Muslim immigrants have proved to be linked to terrorist groups, and some have plotted or carried out terrorist attacks. So have native-born Muslims and converts to Islam.
Implications for Hospitality and Travel: Barring enactment of strict immigration controls, rapid migration will continue from the southern hemisphere to the north, and especially from former colonies to Europe. A growing percentage of job applicants in the recipient lands will be recent immigrants from developing countries. This will compensate for a declining supply of entry-level and low-wage workers in the developed economies. Unlike post-retirement job-seekers, however, most new arrivals will be limited to relatively menial, behind-the-scenes jobs until they master the local language and adapt to the dominant culture of their new homes.
The market for relatively short-distance international travel should grow significantly in both the United States and Europe, thanks largely to their expanding foreign populations visiting their former homes. Routes between the United States and Mexico and Latin America will grow fastest, while those between Europe and the former colonies of Africa and the Middle East will not be far behind.
In the United States and Europe, foreign-born residents represent significant new markets for well-prepared foods from Latin America and the Middle East. Supplying this demand will fall to small restaurateurs at first, but the major chains can be expected to enter this field as soon as they are sure it will repay their investments.
5. Important medical advances will continue to appear almost daily.
Research into human genetics, stem cells, computer-aided drug design, tissue transplants, cloning, and even nanotechnology promise to ease or cure diseases and injuries that do not respond to today’s medicine. Radical new treatments for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, perhaps Alzheimer’s, and many other disorders are expected to arrive within the next five to ten years. Scientists even are beginning to understand the fundamental processes of aging, bringing the possibility of averting the diseases of old age, and perhaps aging itself.