Skift Take

This week, Skift’s top stories explored new business recovery strategies from Sun Airline's surprise IPO to Marriott’s new all-inclusive resorts, as well as the latest in global tourism from New Zealand all the way to India.

Throughout the week, we post original stories day and night exploring news and travel trends, including regular coverage on the impact of coronavirus. Every weekend, we will offer you a chance to read the most essential stories again in case you missed them earlier.

Is New Zealand’s New Tourism Ad Brilliant or Tone Deaf?: New Zealand’s latest tourism campaign is approaching marketing from a more unconventional way, to say the least. Global marketers have been tackling the challenge of adapting to a more empathetic tone during the pandemic. Some were able to manage, as Skift earlier reported, but others left many industry observers confused. Pure New Zealand’s recent “Traveling under the social influence” ad is one of the latter. While it aims to discourage influencer-inspired tourist photos at popular sights, the campaign instead treads a fine line between genius and insensitivity.

India Ices Tourism Out of Covid Aid — At What Cost?: India’s government has slashed the country’s tourism budget for 2021-2022 by 19 percent, despite the sector’s numerous appeals. The halt of global travel has taken its toll on tourism in the country, which remains mostly closed to international leisure travelers.

85 Percent of U.S. Travel Agencies Won’t Survive the Year Without Aid, Trade Group Warns: The U.S. travel agency trade, one of the industry’s most impacted and often overlooked groups, is struggling on the road to recovery. This month, the American Society of Travel Advisers (ASTA) filed a Covid-19 relief request with Congress to the tune of $9.3 billion. The vast majority of the U.S’s 130,000 travel agencies are currently small, female-owned businesses, said ASTA CEO Zane Kerby, adding that financial support for the industry has been “tragically” inadequate.

Sun Country Plans Rare Airline IPO: As the industry staggers from its worst-ever crisis, Sun Country has decided to announce plans for an upcoming IPO. The Minneapolis-based carrier has filed its intent to offer shares with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on February 8, hoping to raise at least $100 million. Despite the current economic downturn, its cargo deal with Amazon may be one aspect that could make it more attractive to investors.

NFL, Restaurateur Danny Meyer Back Digital Health Passports Through Investment in Clear: A host of investors that include the NFL, Liberty Media, and Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality Investments have recently piled into Clear, a secure identity company that just launched its own digital health passport as the global “fit to fly” movement gains ground during the pandemic.

Marriott Adds 19 All-Inclusive Resorts in Caribbean, Central America in Leisure Travel Push: Global hotel operators like Marriott have to pursue business where they can find as the industry recovers from the global pandemic. The world’s largest hotel company plans to add 19 all-inclusive resorts across Central America and the Caribbean to its Autograph Collection of hotels. The properties, owned by Toronto-based Sunwing Travel Group’s hotel division, would triple Marriott’s current nine-property all-inclusive division, which was only announced in 2019.

Certares Leads $42 Million Investment in Cabin Rental Startup: A new trend in tourism that offers urban consumers an escape from the virtual world is emerging. With domestic outdoor travel in the U.S. becoming more attractive, investment firm Certares is betting on New York-based Getaway, a startup that offers small cabin rentals in nature. Certares, which invests in travel, tourism, and hospitality investments, recently led a Series C round of venture capital investment worth $41.7 million in Getaway.

Startup HomeToGo Is Defying Conventional Wisdom in Vacation Rental Search: HomeToGo is offering vacation rental property managers a different way to pay for reaching consumers. The search service for vacation rentals has had a robust revenue stream despite the pandemic. The Berlin-based startup credits its endurance partly to the relative popularity of holiday homes during the pandemic. Its founders note that the company has relied on a somewhat different business model to traditional metasearch brands to attract both property management companies and consumers to its marketplace.

G Adventures Attracts Investment From Private Equity Firm Certares: G Adventures, a small-group adventure tour operator headquartered in Toronto, has secured an injection of growth capital from private equity firm Certares. New York-based Certares listed the transaction in the socially conscious tour operator in the investment section of its website. It is believed that Certares was the lone investor in the transaction. Bruce Poon Tip founded G Adventures in 1990, and refers to himself on LinkedIn as the owner.

What Delta Air Lines Gets Out of Still Keeping the Middle Seat Open: More and more airlines are taking back the middle seat in an effort to give their customers peace of mind in a post-pandemic world. Delta Air Lines is extending blocking middle seats in coach, blocking aisle seats on planes without middle seats, and blocking adjacent seats in first class through the end of April, the airline announced this week. The move follows a dismal fourth quarter and comes despite losing the added revenue those empty seats provide.

MGM’s Race to Diversify Beyond Casino Resorts Shows Early Strength: An expansion into online gaming may give MGM Resorts International another option in its recovery toolkit. MGM reported Wednesday a $448 million fourth quarter loss, tied to revenue being down 66 percent at its Las Vegas resorts and down 58 percent in Macau. There wasn’t a lot of talk about hotel room performance on an investor call shortly after the financial results were announced, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to be catastrophic for Las Vegas casino resort operators.

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Tags: coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, marriott, tourism new zealand

Photo credit: New Zealand, one of the few countries that has somewhat beat covid-19, has just launched a new tourism campaign that could have been brilliant, if it weren’t so ill-timed. Lawrence Murray / Queenstown, New Zealand

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