Good morning from Skift. It's Thursday, February 10, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses Trivago’s hopes for European regulation, the lack of international tourism recovery in the United States, and how one convention space survived Covid.
Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Despite the United States reopening to overseas tourists last November, the country’s tourism industry still has a long way to go to make a complete recovery. International visitor spending in the U.S. is still well below pre-Covid figures, writes Global Tourism Reporter Lebawit Lily Girma.
While international visitors to the U.S. spent $10.4 billion in December 2021 — just over half of 2019 levels — further numbers released by the International Trade Administration paint a dimmer picture. U.S. international visitor spending hit roughly $80 billion last year, a figure just 33 percent of 2019 spending levels. Girma writes the disappointing numbers are a result of the U.S. keeping an entry ban in place for most of 2021 on its major transatlantic routes.
Brand USA, which markets the U.S. worldwide as a tourist destination, is calling on Congress to provide the destination marketing organization $250 million worth of immediate emergency funding that it believes will help it better promote the country to prospective overseas visitors.
We turn now to a major reason Trivago is optimistic about 2022. The metasearch engine believes it will benefit from European authorities chomping down on Google, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.
Trivago Chief Financial Officer Matthias Tillman said during its fourth quarter earnings call that he expects the European Union to implement its Digital Market Act this year, which would take steps to rein in large travel companies it classifies as gatekeepers. Tillman said the DMA might slow down Trivago’s biggest competitors, adding that Trivago could gain market share.
CEO Axel Hefer said on Wednesday that the main company in price comparison services, mainly travel metasearch, affected by the DMA will be Google. Google’s rivals have long argued that the tech giant — which offers price-comparison services in hotels, flights and vacation rentals — has given Google Travel an unfair advantage over its competitors’ offerings in free search results.
We end today at Chicago’s McCormick Place, one of the biggest convention centers in the U.S. Like other similar facilities, it saw business come to a screeching halt due to the pandemic. But how has McCormick Place survived the Covid era? Contributor David McMillin explains how in an interview with a building executive for EventMB, a Skift brand.
Larita Clark — the CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the facility’s owner — admitted she saw warning signs in February 2020 that Covid could disrupt operations when an event needed to decrease its exhibit space due to shipping delays from China. While operations for the rest of the month proceeded without any major problems, McCormick Place had to completely close for business events in March 2020 and wouldn’t welcome any convention attendees until July of the following year.
However, Clark said that McCormick Place did what it could to help its employees during the shutdown, including maintaining as many positions as possible with healthcare benefits. McCormick Place has played an enormous role in Chicago’s vaccination efforts as employees from roughly 20 federal and state agencies received their first doses at the convention center. It officially reopened in July 2021 with a full schedule, including a special edition of the Chicago Automobile Show.
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