How has technology affected travel, both economically and socially, and is digital mapping the true way of the future?
THE International Map Trade Association over the weekend had a conference here in Brisbane, during which international retailers came together to discuss changing trends in what travel resources are selling, and how modern technology is affecting the population both economically and socially.
The common patterns we found were as follows:
1. Travel book sales have plumetted;
2. Adventure tour sales are significantly lower than any other year;
3. Physical maps sales were up for some companies but overall were significantly down for others;
4. Publishers are heavily focusing on digital products.
Now the answer for the retailers in their experience was not that people were "buying" digital products any more or less than physical products, but that people in general seem to have become addicted to, and just expect, information to be fed to them for free through a screen. One business in particular experienced two very different behaviors on their latest 4WD expedition through the Australian Outback: the 40+ travellers were calm and relaxed, whereas those under the age of 40 were a lot more tense, restless and figity. The business owner asked if they were ok and the answer was "We don't know what to do. We can't get reception, so what happens if we get lost?" When she asked them why they didn't have maps, they said "What do we want those for?".
I personally believe society is built upon exploration and cartography, and is an important fundamental skill every person should have. I also believe social development is the backbone of economy.