Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at short-term rentals in Saudi Arabia, Azul's potential restructuring, and hotels' business travel woes.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, February 7. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Saudi Arabia has taken a big step in its quest to attract 100 million visitors annually by 2030. The country is now allowing its citizens for the first time to rent out their properties to tourists, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.

Bhutia writes the new bylaw is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to make the country more accessible to international travelers. Turab Saleem, an executive at real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank, said Airbnb-like accommodations could help Saudi Arabia attract more visitors quickly. He added the opportunity to stay in short-term rental properties would be especially appealing for non-luxury travelers.

However, one hospitality expert said he was unsure if a large number of Saudis would open their homes to foreign visitors.

Next, a new survey reveals that business travel is poised to present hotels their biggest challenge this year, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.

Roughly 60 percent of hotel owners listed business travel as their main challenge in 2023, according to a survey by revenue management software company Duetto. That’s ahead of issues such as staffing concerns and surging business costs. Although business travel is making significant progress in its rebound, Parsons writes the sector’s inability to make a full recovery is weighing heavily on hotels.

The Global Business Travel Association recently found that only half of North America-based companies have seen international bookings recover to 2019 levels.

Finally, Brazilian airline Azul has seen revenue and passenger numbers increase from pre-pandemic levels. However, the company has hired legal help to advise it on a potential restructuring, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Russell cites the weak Brazilian real as one major factor in Azul’s decision to hire advisors. Azul CEO John Rodgerson recently described the struggling currency as a huge challenge for the company. Rodgerson also acknowledged that Azul has been grappling with surging fuel prices, which hit historically high levels in 2022. Russell adds another concern for Azul are debt payments the company postponed early in the pandemic.

Azul is not alone among Brazilian airlines in facing debt and foreign exchange issues. Its rival Gol faces many of the same challenges, with Russell noting the two carriers have limited U.S. dollar revenue streams to offset the weak real. Azul and Gol both mainly fly domestically in Brazil.

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Tags: azul airlines, saudi arabia, skift podcast

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