Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at reinventing international tourism, United’s flying taxi bet, and Techstars’ Tulsa investment.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, September 9. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today

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Episode Notes

Amidst global tourism’s large-scale rebound this year, the travel industry is continuing to push the narrative it’s changed enormously since the pandemic. But Kenyan ecologist Dr. Mordecai Ogada argues that global tourism must adopt five key principles to continue being an influential industry, writes Editor-at-Large Lebawit Lily Girma.

Ogada, who will speak at Skift Global Forum in New York this month, believes the travel industry should avoid using the term sustainability unless local officials define it. He said the industry must consider local solutions for sustainability to better support host communities. Ogada adds the subjective nature of sustainability drives what he views as nonsensical solutions, such as carbon offsets.

Ogada also calls for the travel industry to immediately adopt new metrics for success, arguing that focusing on attracting overseas visitors places a premium on outsiders and their needs. He believes some of those visitors have harmful needs such as sport hunting and child sex exploitation. Furthermore, Ogada said the travel industry must place local residents at the center of any tourism product, adding that tourism’s neocolonial practices are driving displacement in Tanzania.

Next, United Airlines believes that travelers are increasingly willing to shell out between $100 and $150 to fly very short distances. The Chicago-based carrier announced on Thursday it’s investing $15 million in electric air taxi startup Eve Air Mobility, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

United is also adding as many as 400 electric air taxis to its backlog under the deal with Eve. Russell writes the deal is the latest in the rapidly growing urban air mobility market, which investment management firm Morgan Stanley estimates could be worth $1.5 million by 2040. Electric air taxis are expected to connect airports to major job or population centers within roughly 60 miles of the airport.

However, Russell adds that it’s unlikely electric air taxis will be in operation anytime soon, citing obstacles such developing technology to power them and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals.

Finally, Techstars, a global network that supports startups, is developing a new program focusing on Black entrepreneurs in travel, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons in this week’s Future of Work briefing.

Techstars is partnering with Build in Tulsa, an Oklahoma-based company that works to build African American wealth. The two entities are creating Build in Tulsa Techstars Accelerator, a launchpad for travel startups SquadTrip and Workbnb. SquadTrip co-founder Darrien Watson said his company is targeting group travel as an area of growth, with more corporate travel agencies catering to clients looking to run more retreats.

Parsons adds that Build in Tulsa Techstars Accelerator aims to build on the legacy of Black Wall Street, a wealthy African American neighborhood decimated by a racially motivated massacre in 1921. Workbnb founder Yeves Perez said the new program is a significant development in technology, especially since it’s located near Black Wall Street. Workbnb, which arranges accommodation for workers involved in infrastructure projects, has established a pilot program offering apartments in Tulsa to members of Techstars.


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Tags: sgf2022, skift live, skift podcast, startups, techstars, united airlines

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