Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at new tourism strategies in the U.S., American Air's attempt to address debt, and the UAE's upward forecast.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, December 21, and here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Tourism boards in the U.S. had already been transforming themselves well before the pandemic, but destination marketing organizations across the country made major changes in 2022 to better serve visitors and local communities. So Skift is highlighting five U.S. destinations that are remaking their tourism strategies this year, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam in this Deep Dive report.

Skift selected those five tourism boards because of the specific changes they’re making. Each of those changes touched on Skift megatrends of rural overtourism, greater community involvement in tourism, or the influence of remote work on traveler mobility. One of those destinations — Jackson Hole, Wyoming — has conducted workshops with residents over the past year as part of its strategy to develop a more sustainable tourism industry. A 2022 survey its tourism board commissioned found 80 percent of the town’s residents believe tourism development has been happening too fast.

Habtemariam adds that Boston and Charlottesville, Virginia have embraced inclusivity in their destination marketing. He writes that Boston is working to provide travelers different images of the city by showcasing neighborhoods that prospective visitors may be unaware of. Meanwhile, Charlottesville, the site of a white supremacist riot in 2017, has increasingly taken steps to feature Black culture in its tourism marketing efforts, with tourism officials acknowledging they had long minimized Black voices in their community.

Next, American Airlines, one of most leveraged U.S. airlines, has taken a big step in addressing its debt problems. It unexpectedly made a payment of more than $1 billion this week, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Russell writes the payment was unexpected since American Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr said in October the company would only repay $540 in debt during the fourth quarter. The payment wasn’t due until December 2023. However, Russell adds that American remains on many analysts’ list of companies with high debt loads. The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier had nearly $53 billion worth of debt, including all of its liabilities, at the end of September.

Russell writes much of American’s leverage came from its fleet renewal program during the 2010s. The company replaced hundreds of older Boeing jets with newer Airbus and Boeing models.

We finish today in the United Arab Emirates. The country recently revised its gross domestic product forecast for 2022 on the back of its resurgent tourism industry, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia in this week’s Middle East Travel Roundup newsletter.

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates cited the stronger than expected performance of non-oil sectors — including tourism and hospitality — as the reasons for the amended forecast. The Central Bank expects its non-oil gross domestic product to grow by 6 percent this year, compared to its previous estimate of roughly 4 percent. It attributed that growth to the lifting of most Covid-related restrictions as well as the hosting of major events in 2022.


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Tags: american airlines, dmos, marketing, skift podcast, uae

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