Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Waldorf Astoria’s India expansion, American Airlines’ forecasts, and Japan’s tourism shortfalls.
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, April 13. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Hilton has long taken a cautious approach to expanding its footprint in India. But with plans to debut its luxury brand Waldorf Astoria in the country, Hilton believes it’s in a prime position to replicate its China success in India, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.
Hilton Asia-Pacific President Alan Watts acknowledged the company may be late in growing in India compared to its rivals. However, Watts said the country’s improved travel infrastructure has given Hilton the push to expand in India. He said that Hilton has every intention of opening brands suitable for India, as it did in China, adding that Waldorf Astoria is an excellent fit for the Indian market.
Next, American Airlines believes it has reasons for optimism when it reports its first quarter earnings. However, it’s no certainty the second quarter will see a repeat of any first quarter success, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.
Russell writes American’s numbers for the first quarter look good in part due to its large Latin American business. Travel demand in the region typically peaks during the first quarter. But Russell notes the second quarter is expected to be mixed for U.S. airlines, including American. The demand for domestic travel appears to be slowing, with the Bank of America projecting a roughly 5 percentage point slowdown in domestic net sales since mid-March.
Finally, Japan is seeing a major visitor boom amid its ongoing cherry blossom season. However, the country’s tourism businesses are having trouble serving tourists due to significant staffing shortages, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.
Habtemariam reports that travel to Japan has been trending upward since the country reopened to foreign tourists last October. He adds that bookings for this cherry blossom season, which runs from early March to early May, are at an all-time high in part due to travelers moving bookings from 2020 to 2023.
But as the pandemic took a major toll on Japan’s travel businesses, Habtemariam notes the country’s tourism industry has fewer workers than it did prior to Japan closing its borders to overseas visitors. Roughly 78 percent of hotels reported in January having a shortage of full-time employees, according to one survey. In addition, an executive at tour operator Intrepid Travel admitted finding experienced tour guides has been a struggle.
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