Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Increased region tourism in the Middle East, Hilton Grand Vacations’ grand plan, and Yosemite’s overtourism strategy.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, December 7. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
The ongoing World Cup has not only attracted roughly 1.5 million visitors to Qatar, it’s also helped boost tourism throughout the entire Middle East. The region is leading the global travel recovery in the fourth quarter, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia in this week’s Middle East Travel Roundup newsletter.
The Middle East has seen inbound arrivals increase 4 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2019, according to travel analytics firm ForwardKeys. That’s far ahead of the global average of a 30 percent decrease. Juan Gomez, head of market intelligence at ForwardKeys, said the World Cup was the driving force in the region’s tourism recovery.
ForwardKeys also noted that the outlook for tourism in the Middle East looks promising despite a possible recession worldwide. The firm’s latest air ticketing data reveals that inbound arrivals to the region may hit pre-Covid levels in 2023. Travel to the Middle East is projected to be 15 percentage points above pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter next year.
Next, dozens of travel companies have viewed inflation as a threat to their bottom lines, but not Hilton Grand Vacations. The timeshare company believes surging rates for hotels are making its stable prices more appealing for consumers, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.
O’Neill writes that Hilton Grand Vacations hasn’t increased the cost of its points-based system unlike hotels that have raised rates. Points-based systems enable travelers to buy what’s essentially a voucher they can redeem for stays at hundreds of locations. Chief Operating Officer Gordon Gurnik said that as consumers see nightly hotel rates surge, they’re increasingly looking toward timeshare products they view as lifelong investments.
Gurnik also expressed confidence that possible recessions wouldn’t boost default rates. He said Hilton Grand Vacations has improved at selling timeshares to qualified individuals, which have helped keep its default rates low.
Finally, U.S. national parks have increasingly been implementing reservation systems to help control overcrowding. But Yosemite National Park is ending reservation requirements for summer visitors to evaluate its impact on local communities, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.
Habtemariam notes that Yosemite is bucking the trend among U.S. national parks to limit visitor access. National parks, which attracted record numbers of visitors during the pandemic, have been grappling with overtourism, which Skift identified as a 2022 travel megatrend. Habtemariam adds that many national parks have put into place restrictive booking windows, often between 30 and 60 days.
Yosemite will conduct a public scoping process starting this winter, during which it will gather feedback from businesses and local communities about how to develop a plan for the park’s future. One local tourism executive said one of the topics likely to be discussed would be the consequences of Yosemite’s entry restrictions, which he said caused traffic jams because cars weren’t allowed to drive through the park.
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