Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It's Thursday, May 19, 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

Listen to the day’s top travel stories in under four minutes every weekday.

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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at new tourist spending habits, Saudi Arabia’s trillion-dollar bet on tourism, and Buenos Aires’ renewed push in the meetings industry.

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Episode Notes

A new report states that global tourism spending on experiences has surpassed spending on material objects, write Contributor Mary Ann Ha and Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.

The report, compiled by the Mastercard Economics Institute, reveals that global tourism spending recorded at bars and nightclubs last month was 72 percent over the level recorded in April 2019. Meanwhile, April 2022 spending at amusement parks, museums and concerts is 35 percent above the same period from three years ago. However, tourist spending in retail categories has fallen compared to 2019, with experience spending levels currently 27 percentage points higher than those for material objects.

Mastercard Chief Economist Bricklin Dwyer said the inflection point occurred in June 2021, when consumers finally able to travel were spending more money on experiences.

We go to Saudi Arabia next. The kingdom has announced plans to invest $1 trillion in its tourism industry over the next 10 years, with its sights set on welcoming 100 million tourists annually by 2030, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.

Saudi Arabia has long struggled to attract overseas visitors due to factors such as its strict no-alcohol policy and the severe restrictions women face in the country. But it’s making enormous investments in its tourism sector to help diversify its primarily oil-based economy, including recently signing Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi to be the country’s newest tourist ambassador. Saudi Arabia has also hosted dozens of big events in the last year, such as the inaugural edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival and major soccer finals.

Bhutia writes that while very few destinations promoted tourism during the height of the pandemic, Saudi Arabia took the opposite approach, which Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahd Hamidaddin said has sparked a domestic travel boom in the country.

We end today with Buenos Aires, which is working to reclaim its position as a major player in the meetings and events industry, which is still struggling mightily to rebound from the pandemic, reports Contributor Paul Krizanovic.

The Argentine capital hosted MICE Week, which included a series of events intended to woo international buyers, earlier this month. Karina Petricone, the executive director of Visit Buenos Aires, expressed optimism that MICE Week could help boost the meetings and events sector in the city, which she estimates was responsible for roughly 30 percent of pre-Covid international tourism to Buenos Aires. The meetings and events industry has only recovered to 20 percent of pre-pandemic figures.

Visit Buenos Aires views the sector as one of the key parts of the city’s tourism recovery. Buenos Aires was, prior to the pandemic, ranked by the International Congress and Convention Association as the number one meetings and event destination in Latin America and 18th worldwide.

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Tags: argentina, buenos aires, coronavirus recovery, food and drink, meetings and events, retail, skift podcast

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