Travel Payments

Booking Holdings Chief Says Gov’ts Should Incentivize Consumer Travel

Bookings owner says government should subsidize travel

One solution to the pandemic’s destruction of the travel industry, according to Glenn Fogel of Bookings Holdings, could be for the government to start subsidizing peoples’ vacations.

Fogel predicts that travel and tourism will be some of the last recovering facets of the pandemic’s multi-armed attack against the economy.

Bookings Holdings, which operates Bookings.com, Kayak, OpenTable and Priceline, has had to cut jobs and raise $4 billion in new debt since the pandemic forced tourism rates to fall by around 85 percent.

Fogel said it would likely be “years, not quarters” before things returned to the levels they were at previously.

Fogel’s idea about subsidization of travel is rooted in the past, when the government has been known to stimulate other sectors of the economy like electric cars. He said once a vaccine has been developed, the idea seemed feasible to him.

However, even after a vaccine, it isn’t likely that the industry will come bounding back in full force, Fogel noted, saying it would likely be much longer before people felt entirely comfortable going out like they used to.

That tracks with recent PYMNTS research that found that many people surveyed don’t have a desire to reopen society and go back out right now. The fear of the virus is a powerful motivator, particularly with the easier and safer digital delivery options available.

The World Travel & Tourism Council said the decay of the travel industry could put 75 million related jobs at risk, which Fogel called important entry-level positions for people who will need to come back to the workforce.

Fogel invoked World War II in defending the stimulus spending being done by the U.S. government, which some have critiqued as too costly.

“After Pearl Harbor, I don’t believe there were people saying ‘how much does this aircraft carrier cost?’ We’re in a war we have to win. We’ll spend what it takes to win,” he said, according to Financial Times.

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LIVE PYMNTS ROUNDTABLE: MODERNIZING & SCALING FOR THE NEW NORMAL

The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.

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