Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It's Friday, March 11, 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 the decisions corporate travel agencies are making in Russia, Israel’s Covid balancing act for travelers, and the bed tax boom in the western United States.



Episode Notes

The number of travel companies dissociating themselves with Russia continues to increase. But many corporate travel agencies, in a delicate attempt to maintain ties to their Russian partners while not wanting to risk a colossal public relations blowback, are treading carefully in their business dealings in Russia, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.

While most company executives largely said they were largely keeping relationships with Russian partners at arm’s length, several said cutting ties to Russia would significantly reduce their ability to help clients working to get employees out of the country. FCM Travel, the corporate division of Flight Centre Travel Group, cited that as the reason it continues to maintain ties with its Russian partner agency.

However, some companies in the sector have announced they’re withdrawing from Russia. Corporate Travel Management has suspended its partnerships with Moscow-based agency Unifest while TripActions is no longer supporting travel to Russia and Belarus.

We turn now to the increasing ruralization of tourism, a subject Skift has explored in-depth. Numerous U.S. tourism boards, especially in the Western part of the country, are reporting soaring hotel bed tax revenue for fiscal year 2021 while grappling with concerns of overtourism, writes Global Tourism Reporter Lebawit Lily Girma.

Destinations that are gateways to national and state parks are among those that have seen the biggest surges in bed tax revenue, a major funding source for destinations. Jackson Hole, Wyoming — located near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks — has seen its bed tax collections hit well above historical records for every month since October 2020. In addition, drive markets such as Arkansas that didn’t shut down during Covid have recorded huge jumps in bed tax revenue.

However, Girma writes that several rural destinations are buckling under the strain of increased visitation. An executive from Jackson Hole’s tourism board attributed local environmental degradation to large numbers of visitors camping in dispersed areas with less restrictions.

We end today in Israel, which reopened to unvaccinated overseas visitors last week. Tour operators active there believe the country can serve as a model for other destinations in the process of significantly easing travel restrictions, reports Editorial Assistant Rashaad Jorden.

Israeli authorities haven’t lifted several preventative measures in the fight against Covid, one of them being the country’s indoor mask mandate. One tour operator executive expressed strong support for Israel continuing the mandate since his company already recommends mask wearing indoors and in crowded settings.

While Israel still requires all incoming arrivals to pass two PCR tests — one prior to departing their home country and one upon arrival — it has also expedited the process, significantly reducing the likelihood of visitors having to isolate for 24 hours while waiting for results. And if overseas visitors do test positive for Covid upon arrival, the country’s Ministry of Health provides instructions to them about how to navigate the situation.


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Tags: israel, overtourism, russia, skift podcast, tourism