First Free Story (1 of 3)

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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.

Poland Becomes First Country in 5 Years to Join U.S. Visa Waiver Program: The U.S. inbound travel market needs all the good news it can get at the moment — and Poland’s official entry into the visa waiver program is just that.

U.S. Travelers Can Still Travel Legally to Cuba — But Confusion Over Trump Policies Is Keeping Them Away: President Trump hasn’t scrapped legal U.S. travel to Cuba entirely, but the drip drip of policies making it seem more difficult or complex will mean some travelers stay away. One travel company wants to make it easier.

Los Cabos Is a Model for Mexico’s Events Industry After Tourism Board Closure: Los Cabos’ name recognition and infrastructure give it a huge advantage, so it makes sense that it emerged as a leader in the events space. Still, the city’s reworked meetings strategy has important info for other destinations.

Mexico’s Events Industry Feels the Sting of Tourism Board Closure: One destination — Los Cabos — is well-positioned to deal with the sudden closure. The resort city is showing other destinations a path forward after funding cuts.

Toronto Pushback Shows Path Forward for Smart Cities Is Full of Compromises: By pushing back against Sidewalk Labs, the city of Toronto has shown that the future of the smart city will be forged by compromise and collaboration with local authorities.

Hong Kong’s New Tourism Chief Rolls Up Sleeves to Tackle Huge Challenges: It takes a brave person to lead Hong Kong’s battered tourism industry. After a few months’ search, the tourism board has found a new lead, but now the hard work begins.

New Concepts Tackle Luxury Travel’s Abuse of Nature in Asia: Enough of abusing nature for luxury. Tourism players in Asia-Pacific share how conscious design and excursion-based wellness can change how we think about luxury resorts.

Greenwashing Goes On in Asia’s Massive Hotel Development: Asia leads the global hotel pipeline and many more luxury hotels and wellness resorts will be opening in its fragile environments. Low-impact advocates are trying to lead by example, but they’re too small and too few to effect a sea change.

Cruise Chairman Deflects Concerns Over Industry’s Environmental Threats as ‘Fake News’: It makes sense that a longtime leader of a cruise company would give lip service to sustainability. To say consumer concerns about the sector’s sustainability are fake, however, risks alienating customers at a pivotal moment for the sector.

Amtrak Charts Difficult Course to First Break-Even While Spending to Upgrade Operations: Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson has been spearheading a revamp of the U.S. national railway through boosting safety, driving more profits from its co-branded credit card, and creating a mix of more low-cost and premium services in the U.S. northeastern corridor. Anderson’s tricky balance is being ambitious while trimming longstanding losses.

SoulCycle’s Move Into Retreats Will Test Loyalty of Its Spin Fanatics: Considering SoulCycle is a fitness company, it’s not outlandish to think it would want to get into the wellness retreat business. Whether it will actually earn enough of a profit from the trips to make it worth its while is another story.

SoulCycle Launches Wellness Retreats to Keep Pace With a Shifting Market: SoulCycle is smart to try and cash in on the wellness retreat trend — and look for other ways to make money so it can keep up with Peloton. For that to happen, though, it’s going to need to garner a lot of interest.

Host Travel Agencies Step Up to Train Wave of Newcomers: A surge of newcomers are setting up shop as travel advisors — with some of them unprepared for the realities of the job. Host agencies and consortiums are ramping up efforts to give them the education they need.

Travel Advisor Newbies Benefit From Expanding Array of Training Options: With an influx of newcomers seeking careers as travel advisors, host agencies and consortiums are responding with new professional development options. Much of it emphasizes business skills, giving a reality check to those who view a travel career as an easy endeavor with lots of perks.

Case Studies in Wellness Tourism That Go Beyond the Spa: New Skift Research: Wellness tourism is here for the long term. Understanding what it is today can help stakeholders find their place in this booming sector.

Photo Credit: Polish and Polish-themed items being sold at the Lagrange Street Polish Festival in Toledo, Ohio. Elevatorrailfan / Wikimedia Commons