Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at the UAE’s huge tourism push, Washington, D.C.’s new airport link, and repatriation of African artifacts.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, November 16. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

The United Arab Emirates has ambitious goals for tourism. It recently unveiled a new strategy aiming to make tourism a $122 billion a year industry, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia in this week’s Middle East Travel Roundup newsletter.

The UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 aims to attract $27 billion worth of new investment to the sector as well as 40 million hotel guests. Government officials also said the strategy includes 25 initiatives and policies supporting the development of tourism. The United Arab Emirates, which recently lifted all pandemic-related travel restrictions, saw its tourism revenues surpass $5 billion in the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, airlines throughout the Middle East and Africa expect to return to profitability by the end of the year in spite of a possible economic downturn. Bhutia writes that carriers across the region have seen an enormous surge in travel demand, citing Emirates Airline as an example. It carried 20 million passengers between April 1 and September 30, a more than 200 percent jump from the same period last year.

Next, train service to Washington Dulles International Airport finally launched on Tuesday, decades after planners first proposed a rail link to the airport. Rail service will not only make Dulles easier to reach for travelers, it’ll also make the airport more attractive for new airlines, especially budget carriers, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Jack Potter, CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, predicted that Dulles would land new service as a result of the rail link, noting that budget airlines expect to have transit to city centers. Iceland-based budget carrier Play Airlines has already announced it will start flying to Dulles next April.

The new train service to Dulles joins the growing number of rail links to U.S. airports, Russell notes. Los Angeles and Orlando International Airports are scheduled to debut rail connections next year. Almost 57 percent of U.S. fliers will have access to rail on one leg of their journey after those two connections open, according to Airline Weekly.

Finally, African nations are fighting to recover artifacts stolen from them while being colonized by European powers. Although tourism is not the main reason for seeking their return, African officials believe those objects will be major attractions for members of the diaspora eager to visit the continent, reports Contributor Harriet Akinyi.

Akinyi cites Uganda as one destination developing a strategy to showcase artifacts it plans to retrieve. Ugandan officials plan to display the recovered objects in the Uganda Museum, East Africa’s largest, in late 2023. Rose Nkaale, Uganda’s commissioner of museums and moments, said the artifacts would help attract visitors to the country, including those in the African diaspora.

But officials such as Juma Ondeng, a coordinator at the National Museums of Kenya, emphatically stated they’re fighting to retrieve stolen articles mainly to rectify colonial injustices. More than 32,000 Kenyan objects are held in 30 museums across Europe and the U.S.


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Tags: dulles, kenya, skift podcast, uae, uganda, washington dc

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