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Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines tourism trends.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

Shore Excursions Not Run by Cruise Lines Are a Hit With Passengers and Travel Advisors Alike: Independent shore excursions are proliferating, enabling passengers to avoid the crowds and travel advisors to earn commissions. With competition more intense, some cruise lines are attempting to improve their excursion offerings as a result.

Travel Advisors Cruise Over to Book Independent Shore Excursions: Shore excursions offered by third-party companies are growing in popularity among passengers and travel advisors alike. Independent options tend to offer more customization than ship-sponsored tours while also offering financial benefits for travel advisors.

Saudi Arabia’s New Tourism Frontier Explained: Businesses can’t resist the opportunities that a new frontier brings. In the case of Saudi Arabia, however, the gamble they take is whether tourists will actually go, given the kingdom’s poor image.

Saudi Tourist Visa Opens New Doors for Asia’s Muslim Travel Market: Since Saudi Arabia introduced a new tourist visa on Sept. 28, the focus has been on what it means for non-Muslim leisure travelers. But the new visa holds a bigger significance for the huge Muslim travel market in Asia and elsewhere.

Thomas Cook UK Shops Sold to Retail Rival Owned by Husband-and-Wife Team:
Given the state of the traditional retail industry, on the surface this appears to be a risky deal but Hays Travel is a profitable, growing business and will probably have secured the assets at a knock-down price.

Hong Kong’s Imperiled Travel Industry Grows Increasingly Desperate With New Plea: There are no signs of things getting better for the embattled travel industry in Hong Kong, as a recent plea from the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong indicates.

U.S. Considers Rejoining UN’s World Tourism Organization in a Rare Nod to Global Cooperation: The policies of the Trump administration haven’t exactly been friendly to inbound U.S. tourism, nor to international cooperation. But for reasons not entirely clear, the administration seems keen to get back into the UN’s World Tourism Organization.

The Impact of Brexit on the Travel Industry: New Skift Research: The UK is an important contributor to global travel, but the uncertainty over Brexit will impact its place in the world and its residents’ willingness to spend on international vacations. The questions are just how and where the impact will be felt most.

A Post-Brexit Labor Market Will Severely Hurt UK Tourism’s Ability to Recruit: What will happen with Brexit is still anyone’s guess. But the end of the “freedom of movement” — which is the most likely outcome in the event of any Brexit deal or no deal — will present existential hiring challenges for the tourism sector’s labor force.

Dominican Tourism Is Down But Not Out Following Sensational Visitor Death Headlines: What’s done is done as it relates to the tourism dollars lost in the Dominican Republic this summer. The country is fighting perception at this point, but instead of blaming the media, it should look at local travel industry partners as a means to help regain consumer confidence.

Travel Agencies Still Make 7 Times More in Commissions Than Fees: Travel advisors need to further diversify their revenue beyond commissions. That’s for sure.

Hot Springs as Wellness Destination Takes Hold in U.S.: This week in wellness news, the hot springs movement gains traction in the U.S. Meanwhile, mental health apps aim to address the rising tide of anxiety in the U.S. Admirable, yes, but it’s debatable whether apps that gamify the quest toward beating anxiety can really catch on.

Why the Hot Springs Movement Is Gaining Steam in the United States: The ancient Greeks did it. So did the ancient and not-so-ancient Romans, Japanese, and Chinese. Heck, even some of the founding fathers of the United States did it too. But despite its illustrious past, the idea of taking the waters has never really caught on in the United States, until now. Hot springs could be on the verge of a major wellness moment.

Business Travel Is Tough on Employees’ Home Lives: Bleisure Can Help: New research has important info for employers who want to make sure their travelers stick around and don’t come to resent frequent work trips.

Bleisure May Be Key to Preserving Business Travelers’ Home Lives: A new report from Carlson Wagonlit Travel suggests that adding leisure days to business trips can reduce the negative personal impacts of corporate travel.

Photo Credit: Cruise lines have faced more competition from third-party companies as cruisers prefer independent tours over their excursions. Walking tours along Amsterdam's streets, pictured here, are an example of such excursions. Nicolas Vigier / Flickr