Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at New York City’s new tourism challenges, AI-powered Google Maps, and an old solution to selling travel.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, April 11. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

New York City’s tourism industry has made a monster recovery from the pandemic. But local officials still have concerns about its long-term future, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.

Habtemariam reports New York City hit 85 percent of its pre-Covid tourism volume last year. The city is expected to make a complete tourism recovery in 2024, according to New York City + Conventions. In addition, one New York-based tour guide said traditional attractions like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty are very close to hitting 2019 visitor numbers.  

However, Habtemariam writes the city faces some underlying problems despite its tourism boom. A recent poll found that about 70 percent of New Yorkers are unhappy about the city’s direction. Habtemariam notes that widespread discontent could make tourism promotion tougher. Furthermore, the popularity of hybrid and remote work is costing New York City roughly $12 billion. Habtemariam adds the loss of tax revenue can cause cities like New York City to cut back on infrastructure improvements, which could hurt tourism. 

We turn next to another look at how artificial intelligence could significantly alter the travel industry. Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali argues that an AI-powered Google Maps will make the app even more powerful than it already is.

Ali said that AI would make searching for suitable hotels and restaurants more relevant based on a user’s history on Google Maps. In addition to becoming a game-changing app, he said in a video posted to his Twitter account that Google could emerge as a superapp. Superapps enable users to perform a myriad of tasks on one platform instead of having to resort to dozens of apps. Ali said that an AI-powered Google Maps might also provide a visual representation of search results.  

Finally, Spain-based travel agency Pangea recently revealed it doubled its revenue from the first quarter of last year. How did it accomplish the feat? The company attributes the revenue boom in part to new stores, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill. 

O’Neill notes an $11 million fundraising round in 2019 not only helped Pangea survive the pandemic, but also enabled the company to open four stores around Spain. Pangea CEO David Hernández said the physical stores have attracted a new generation of travelers. He added the company is developing new technology that aims to further digitize the travel agency sector. 


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Tags: artificial intelligence, google maps, New York, new york city, nyc, recovery, skift podcast, travel recovery

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