Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at cruise line CEO pay, safari tourism in Tanzania, and Marriott and Expedia’s attempt to limit some discount rates.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, July 7 in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Expedia Group and Marriott International are claiming progress in their efforts to clamp down on the unauthorized distribution of wholesale hotel rates on metasearch sites, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal in this week’s Online Travel Briefing.

A Marriott spokesperson said the hotel giant, which began wholesale rate distribution through Expedia in 2018, has seen a 80 percent drop in rogue rates displayed on metasearch channels. The spokesperson added that the partnership has helped Marriott’s wholesale rates become more profitable.

But despite the companies’ touted progress in curbing the unauthorized distribution of wholesale hotel rates, Schaal writes a search on metasearch site Kayak reveals rates hotels don’t want the general public to see. He cited nightly rates for a stay at Marriott brand Four Points by Sheraton that busted the hotel giant’s rate provisions. Those provisions are designed to ensure third-party websites don’t offer rooms at rates lower than on the official Marriott website.

Next, the cruise industry had a difficult 2021, marked by the ongoing pandemic and worsening income inequality. But executive pay didn’t suffer, with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ Frank Del Rio taking home almost $20 million as the highest paid cruise CEO.

Del Rio will keep his 2021 pay despite Norwegian’s shareholders rejecting his compensation package at the company’s annual meeting last month, the second consecutive year that’s happened. Executives at Norwegian — as well as rivals Royal Caribbean and Carnival — make more than 1,000 times than the median pay of workers at their companies. Cruise-industry wages are low because companies hire heavily in developing countries and most workers aren’t on the job for the entire year.

Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain, the second highest paid cruise CEO, made close to $16 million last year. He finished ahead of Carnival’s Arnold Donald, who took home a little more than $15 million in 2021. Cruise CEO pay ratios are high in part because, unlike airlines, cruise companies didn’t take Covid bailout money from the U.S. government, which came with executive compensation limits.

We wrap up today in Tanzania. The country’s forced removal of Masaai families to create more room for safari tourism is another sign of African countries targeting wealthy, elite visitors, reports Contributor Harriet Akinyi.

Tanzania’s eviction of the Masaai from the country’s Ngorongoro conservation area — a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s been their home for more than a century — has infuriated members of the community and tourism executives worldwide. Kenneth Vasquez Laya, the director of Egypt Tourism USA, said the government’s decision to remove the Masaai from their home to free up space for wealthy safari tourists reeks of 21st century greed.

The country’s forced eviction of the Masaai also runs counter to growing involvement of host communities in tourism, which Skift listed as one of travel’s major trends for 2022. Judy Kepha-Gona, the founder of Kenya-based company Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda, believes countries like Tanzania are more focused on attracting monied visitors than seeking the input of its citizens.

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Tags: expedia, labor, marriott, norwegian cruise line, overtourism, skift podcast, tanzania