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Good morning from Skift. It's Monday, February 21, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses why Cuban tourism has not recovered at the same speed as much of the Caribbean, how Booking.com sees its European competition, and what value may exist in a Viator spinoff by Tripadvisor.

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Episode Notes

Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

A European Union regulation that takes steps to rein in large travel companies it classifies as gatekeepers in their sectors could hit corporations such as Google, Amazon, and Booking.com hard. However, Booking.com vice president Carlo Olejniczak vehemently rejects the label, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal in an exclusive interview ahead of next month’s Skift Forum Europe.

Olejniczak, who will speak on stage at the Forum in London on March 24, told Skift that his company does not control hotel distribution in Europe as consumers can turn to many different avenues to find accommodation options on the continent. He also said that hotels can market their rooms on numerous different on and offline channels, adding that when market demand increases, hotels significantly reduce the number of nights they make available on Booking.com.

We go to Cuba next. While numerous Caribbean destinations saw an increase in overseas visitors in 2021, Cuba was one noticeable exception in the region — in large part due to travel curbs enacted after a Covid surge last April, writes Contributor Paula Krizanovic.

Cuba welcomed a little more than 570,000 international visitors last year, a number that was almost 40 percent of its 2020 figure. So why did the country struggle significantly to attract overseas tourists in 2021 unlike others in the Caribbean? Krizanovic attributes the downturn in tourist arrival numbers mainly to a mandatory quarantine period the government put into place for foreign visitors and a restriction on international flights that both lasted into November.

In addition, sanctions that former U.S. President Donald Trump levied on Cuba, which have continued under the Biden administration, have hurt the country’s tourism industry. An estimated 7,000 Americans visited Cuba in 2021, an enormous drop from the 58,000 who traveled to the island the previous year.

We end today looking at Tripadvisor’s plan to spin off its tours and activity brand Viator, a possibility Skift examined last November. How might Tripadvisor benefit from such an action? Executive Editor Schaal says it could create more value for Viator in a bonus episode of the weekly Skift Podcast.

Senior Research Analyst Seth Borko and Schaal discuss the pros and cons of the plan, in which Tripadvisor would maintain control of Viator while Viator, which specializes in tours and activities, becomes a public company.

While Borko believes Tripadvisor has already kept Viator mostly independent as most of Viator’s bookings come from its website, Schaal said there’s an enormous amount of brand confusion about Viator, expressing doubt against Tripadvisor’s ability to conduct an integrated strategy with Viator.

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Tags: booking holdings, booking.com, coronavirus recovery, cuba, skift podcast, tripadvisor, viator

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