Pull of the Unknown Calls to Travelers

Exploring the world around us is a basic human desire that will not be deterred by fear By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2015 TravelAge West

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Read about otherworldly natural places worth exploring in this issue's cover story.

I heard a TED Talk the other day by noted biologist Nathan Wolfe based on the theme “What’s left to explore?”

“Don’t assume that what we currently think is out there is the full story,” Wolfe said in his talk. “Go after the dark matter in whatever field you choose to explore. There are unknowns all around us, and they are just waiting to be discovered.”

Wolfe’s talk acknowledges our natural inclination to reach beyond what we know and what we’ve experienced in order to seek something new. Indeed, it’s an urge that certainly drives travelers and the travel industry.

This desire to experience the unknown is so strong that it can’t be deterred by terrorists — or by sweeping alerts that are too vague to be truly helpful. That’s why travel agents and suppliers have reported relatively few trip cancellations since the Paris attacks.

In fact, a recent article in The New York Times cited a study by the World Travel and Tourism Council that shows tourism generally rebounds quickly after terrorist incidents. According to the article, after bombings in Madrid in 2004 killed 191 people, foreign visitor levels returned to pre-bombing levels within weeks. And in London, where 52 people died in bus and subway bombings in 2005, there was hardly any impact on tourist arrivals.

“Travel, and specifically leisure travel, is very fragile, but it is also super-resilient,” said Olivier Jager, co-founder and CEO of ForwardKeys, a travel data analysis company, in the article.

This issue’s cover story, “Au Naturel," is meant to stoke your clients’ desire for new experiences by featuring six of the most amazing natural wonders on Earth. Just to make the journey a little easier, we’ve also presented detailed tips and suggestions for the best ways to experience these incredible locations.

“It’s true that we may have charted all the continents on the planet, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing left to explore on Earth,” Wolfe said.

I couldn’t agree more.