Skift Take

Today's edition of Skift's daily podcast looks closer at Chicago's pop music tourism win, Habitas' Saudi hotel circuit, and Qantas' new onboard "wellness zones."

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, June 20. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Chicago’s tourism industry has recently gotten a big boost from events like three sold out Taylor Swift concerts at Soldier Field. Local authorities hope the success of her shows can be the antidote to the city’s negative reputation, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

Habtemariam reports 45,000 people came to Chicago over a June weekend when it hosted a large oncology conference in addition to the Swift concerts. One local hotel industry official said it was the best weekend for hotels in Chicago’s history. In addition, Chicago tourism chief Lynn Osmond said there were no major incidents downtown despite the huge crowds, a sign she believes the Windy City is well prepared to host major events. 

However, Habtemariam writes the city — and its tourism industry — has had to confront public crimes that have made nationwide news. In response to concerns about crime, Osmond wrote a letter to industry partners informing them the city was taking steps to address public safety.

Next, luxury travel lodging company Habitas is planning to create a so-called hotel circuit in Saudi Arabia through a $400 million fund, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill. 

O’Neill writes Habitas aims to transfer guests around locations in Saudi Arabia, where the company is looking to add six properties to its portfolio. Habitas already operates two properties in the kingdom. A Habitas representative said the fund would be anchored by the Saudi Tourism Development Fund. Saudi officials have expressed a desire to attract 100 million tourists annually by 2030. 

Finally, Australia’s flag carrier Qantas recently unveiled the cabin design of its Airbus A350 jets, which will feature a wellness zone, reports Contributor Jessica Wade. 

Wade writes the cabin design represents a significant milestone in Qantas

Project Sunrise, the title for its new nonstop routes from Sydney to London and New York. Qantas said it’s the first airline worldwide to develop a unique Wellbeing Zone on its aircraft. The zone includes a guided on-screen exercise and a hydration station. 

The nonstop flights from Sydney to London and New York are scheduled to take off in late 2025. Qantas also recently resumed service to New York for the first time in more than three years, with flights from Australia to New York via New Zealand. 

Australia’s flag carrier Qantas has resumed flights to New York City for the first time in more than years. 


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Tags: chicago, concerts, habitas, qantas, saudi arabia, skift podcast

Photo credit: Tourist cruise boats and kayakers on the Chicago River.

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