Skift Take

It's a difficult topic for the travel industry to discuss, especially as experiences get more immersive. But just because it can be uncomfortable doesn't mean we should shy away from confronting it and calling out bad behavior.

Series: New Luxury

Luxury Travel News

The Skift New Luxury column is our weekly column focused on the business of selling luxury travel, the people and companies creating and selling experiences, emerging trends, and the changing consumer habits around the sector.

With so much of tourism now about the experience, questions over cultural appropriation and exploitation are no doubt going to increase.

This is perhaps truest in the luxury sector where money-is-no-object travelers are willing to pay more to do things that ordinary consumers can’t afford.

It’s a subject companies from North America and Europe have dodged for some time and it needs addressing as there’s often a fine line between educating guests and exploiting locals. Just look at the controversial issue of slum tourism.

Of course some businesses do a better job than others when it comes to sensitively integrating cultures into their tourism product, but companies and individual tourists need to recognize the privileged position they occupy and act accordingly.

For feedback or news tips, reach out via email at [email protected] or tweet me @paddywhyte.

— Patrick Whyte, Europe Editor

6 Looks at Luxury

Is Luxury Hospitality Guilty of Cultural Appropriation? Education delivered directly from local communities, and informed by tradition, is what distinguishes immersion from appropriation. It’s the job of luxury professionals to facilitate the experience without adding the influence of their own lens.

New Cultural and Business Hub Will Reshape Zurich’s Image: As we have seen in recent years, new multi-use developments can have transformative effects on under-utilized sections of major cities. Zurich is banking on The Circle to create a new reason for tourists to visit the city.

Grassroots Hospitality School Teaches New Generation of Hoteliers Local Diplomacy: A hotel is only as good as its frontline staff. Saira, a grassroots hospitality program, partners with opening hotels to teach locals the craft of hospitality. The result is real service, lower turnover, a link to the community, and sustainable economic development.

Overtourism Becomes a Burden for Thailand as It Breaks Visitor Records: Overtourism is a phrase Skift has championed to describe a phenomenon that’s increasingly common and that requires industry attention. In Thailand, the number of annual visitors to the country has gone from 25 million four years ago to an expected 40 million next year.

Headout Raises $10 Million for Activities Tech: Investors have bet big on luxury experiences, with investments in Headout, which offers last-minute activities; Key Concierge, which does something similar for luxury rental properties; My Daydream, which offers customized upscale tours; and Seatfrog, which offers last-minute upgrades.

China’s Hawaii Partners With Luxury Goods Retailer: Hainan clearly wants to step up its duty free game and the deal with Secoo shows how seriously the province is taking tourism.


Skift Europe Editor Patrick Whyte [[email protected]] curates the New Luxury newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Tuesday.

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Tags: luxury

Photo credit: There's a fine line between cultural immersion and appropriation. Syed Hasan Mehdi / Pixabay

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