Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Disney's strong parks earnings, Michelin Guide tourism, and JetSmart's takeover ambition.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, February 9. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger is optimistic about the future of Disney theme parks, even as he announced his company was cutting 7,000 jobs from its workforce, reorganizing and slashing $5.5 billion in costs during Wednesday’s first quarter earnings call.
Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam writes that Disney executives are reorganizing to bring a more “cost-effective coordinated and streamlined approach to our operations,” Iger said. Within the $5.5 billion cost cut, $3 billion will come from content and $2.5 billion from non-content. It was not clear at this point how much of that would come from the theme parks and experiences division.
It was Iger’s first earnings call since returning to the top executive spot and starts off Disney’s 100 year anniversary. The company will reorganize under three segments: Disney Entertainment, ESPN and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
Under the restructuring, Josh D’Amaro will remain the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman. At Skift Global Forum in September, D’Amaro said he wants to merge the digital and physical world seamlessly at Disney theme parks and attractions with next generation storytelling.
The parks and experiences division reported an increase of 21 percent year over year to $8.7 billion and segment operating income increased 25 percent year over year to $3.1 billion in the first quarter.
Next, Chilean budget carrier JetSmart has announced it wants to buy Colombian airline Viva Air. JetSmart’s offer is the latest potential spoiler to the proposed merger between Viva Air and fellow Colombian carrier Avianca, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.
JetSmart CEO Estuardo Ortiz said on Wednesday that a JetSmart-Viva Air merger would enable his company to maintain the ultra-low-cost model in Colombia. JetSmart’s bid to buy VivaAir comes less than a month after Colombia’s aviation regulator said it would re-evaluate the Viva Air-Avianca merger. Viva Air and Avianca had offered concessions geared toward preserving competition in the country.
JetSmart’s offer is the latest twist in South America’s on-going circle of airline consolidation. In addition to the proposed Viva Air-Avianca union, Russell notes Avianca and Brazilian carrier Gol are looking to merge and create the new airline holding company, Abra.
Finally, restaurants worldwide have long sought Michelin stars, considered one of the food industry’s most prestigious honors. But Contributor Sherry Sun reports that paying the Michelin Guide to promote tourism is far from a straightforward affair.
Although Michelin stars are powerful branding elements for many destinations, Sun writes that shelling out millions for Michelin’s food critics to review restaurants is not without complications. South Korea’s national board in particular received heavy criticism for agreeing to pay Michelin more than $1 million in 2016. In addition, some prominent Israeli chefs have argued they didn’t see the need for its tourism officials to proceed with its current plans to bring Michelin to the country.
Sun adds that Michelin Guide’s activities have faced allegations and bias and elitism throughout years. The recently unveiled Malaysia Michelin Guide was criticized in the country by critics who felt the selections didn’t represent the local culture.
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