Economically speaking, it's good times ahead for travel, according to David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poors, who spoke last week at the New York Times Travel & Tourism Show.

Americans currently spend less on food and other nondurable goods than they did in 1960, when half their income went to the purchase of such goods. Today they spend about a third on goods. They're spending a smaller percentage of their income on energy, too (believe it or not!). In the last oil major oil crisis in 1981, energy accounted for 14 percent of the economy, last year it was just 7 percent. The average household now spends 5.5 percent of its income on energy; it was 8 percent in 1981. "It's not as big a part of the budget as it used to be," Wyss said.

What Americans are spending more on is services -- and that's where travel comes in. "As you become richer, you spend less of your income on goods. I can only drive one car at a time, I can only watch one TV at a time," Wyss said. "If I've got spare cash, I'll go to a restaurant, I'll go on vacation, I'll hire someone to mow my lawn instead of doing it myself."

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