Even on the best of days at hotels, car rental agencies, airlines, tour operators and travel technology companies -- and there have been many such days in the resurgent travel economy -- there has been a lingering sense of uncertainty of late.

To some extent, all change breeds such uncertainty, but a common cause of anxiety these days is a growing appetite for travel companies among private equity firms.

Among the biggest and most profound multibillion-dollar buyouts, several have churned the travel landscape. These buyouts by private equity firms, which are financed through pension funds and other large institutional investors, are raising concerns, not only within the industry but in Congress, in organized labor and in the markets, as well.

Each of those constituencies has its own agenda, and thus its own concerns. But among the shared causes of anxiety is the question of whether private owners will take the long view and support a growing sense of social responsibility as travel companies attempt to ensure a long-term future by mitigating the environmental impact of tourism on local and global communities.

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