Skift Take

Today's podcast discusses middle-class travel in Africa, visa delays in Europe and the U.S., and the Four Seasons’ new strategy.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, October 31. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Visa processing delays have hurt the travel industry’s recovery, especially in the U.S. and Europe. Associate Editor Rashaad Jorden turns to Ask Skift, our artificial intelligence chatbot, for more information about how lengthy visa waits are impacting tourism. 

Jorden reports visa delays for the U.S.’ top inbound markets top 400 days on average. U.S. Travel Association CEO Geoff Freeman said at the recent Skift Global Forum that the long visa wait times make the U.S. an unwelcoming environment for travelers and the U.S. is losing ground in the race to attract tourists. 

Meanwhile, lengthy visa waits for travel to Europe are driving more Indian travelers to visit destinations closer to home. One India-based travel executive said it’s taken travelers as long as 45 days to land an appointment for a Schengen visa. 

Next, the Four Seasons recently enhanced its latest marketing campaign that showcases employees’ efforts to enhance customers’ stays. 

Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill said the Four Seasons is looking to unveil more guest-centric tech, including mobile keys for all guest rooms. The company is also working to enable guests to pay check-out invoices from their phones. 

However, Marc Speichert, the Four Seasons’ executive vice president, said the hotel isn’t looking to add any large properties to its portfolio. 

Finally, African travel executives believe the continent’s growing middle class could significantly boost tourism, especially domestic tourism, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Selene Brophy.

Brophy reports that South Africa in particular has had a surge in domestic tourism. The sector has seen a 31% jump in overnight trips during the first four months of 2023. And domestic travel spending in the country has increased 41% in the same period. 

Analysts believe the growth could be replicated around Africa. The World Bank estimated that the continent was home to a pre-pandemic middle class of 170 million people. In addition, Brophy writes Africa has the youngest population in the world, with more than 60% of Africans under the age of 25. 


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Tags: africa, delays, four seasons, skift podcast, Travel Trends, visas

Photo credit: A beach in Cape Town, South Africa. Nick Gray / Flickr

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