Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Ground Transport

IDEAS: Uber Launches Festive Bus as part of Holiday-Themed Programming

22 hours ago

Uber has launched a suite of festive programming designed to help customers ‘go anywhere, get anything, and celebrate together this season’.

Credit: Uber

For December, any guests who are looking to celebrate with friends through Uber Charter will have the opportunity to experience one of Uber’s festive buses, which offers holiday inspired amenities including karaoke, holiday lights, photo props and more.

The festive karaoke coaches will be available to users in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Washington, D.C, and are bookable in the Uber and Uber Eats apps. 

In addition to the festive party buses, Uber will also be looking to continue to spread the holiday cheer through a number of initiatives, including a Dr. Seuss inspired Christmas kit, reindeer outfits for its delivery robots in select U.S. cities, and gift collections curated by a number of celebrities.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Vakkaru Maldives Launching Sister Resort in UAE

1 day ago

The $1,500-a-night Vakkaru Maldives resort in the Baa Atoll will launch a sister resort in the UAE’s relatively quiet emirate of Fujairah. The project is called Naama Beach Villas and Spa, vying to become the most luxurious property in the emirate.

The opening date is currently unknown.

The all-villa product will deploy dedicated butlers and is currently calling for staff with experience with the likes of Four Seasons, Shangri-la and Aman Resorts. Naama is led by general manager Iain McCormack, who will now run both the Vakkaru Maldives and the new Fujairah retreat.

Naama Fujairah will be small, with 44 keys. Vakkaru Maldives has 113 villas and suites, five restaurants, two bars, a wine cellar and an over-the-water spa.

The Vakkaru is owned by Hamed El Chiaty, Travco Group International’s chairman and the head of the Egyptian El Chiaty family. He is the only Egyptian to wholly own a resort in the Maldives.

Travco Group also owns Nile Cruises and the Jaz Hotel Group, making it a major player in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) travel.

Fujairah Tourism

Fujairah is located on the east coast of the UAE, around a 90-minute drive from Dubai. Its tourism sector isn’t as large as the likes of Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Ras Al Khaimah, and is rarely mentioned by the local government. In 2018, Fujairah had 800,000 visitors, Dubai had 15.9 million that year.

Similar to Oman, which it borders, Fujairah has remained focused on its cultural tourism sector. The emirate had recorded nearly 113,000 visits to its top seven archaeological sites in 2022.

Al Bidya Mosque was the most visited archaeological site with some 88,740 visitors, followed by Fujairah Fort in second place, and then Fujairah Museum and Dibba Fort.

UAE-wide Travel

Unified tourism between the seven emirates and the wider Gulf region has been spoken about more and more by regional leaders over the years. In 2020, the ruler of Dubai announced the “UAE Strategy for Domestic Tourism”, which looks to boost tourism in all the sheikhdoms and promote each of their cultural nuances.

The UAE’s domestic tourism sector contributed 41.2 billion Dirhams ( approximately $11.2 billion) to the economy in 2019. It constituted 23 percent of the total tourism sector revenue, compared to 77 percent from international tourism. As part of this 2020 strategy, the country aims to double the domestic tourism revenue and achieve a greater balance between the two forms of tourism by 2030, without citing exact targets.

In October 2023, Gulf states approved the GCC unified visa, effectively agreeing to create a Schengen zone-like policy for the countries.


IDEAS: Anantara Announces Tented Safari Experience in Zambia

2 days ago

Anantara has announced Anantara Kafue River Tented Camp, a new resort in development on the banks of the Kafue River in Africa.

The resort is being developed in partnership with Agro Safari.

Credit: Minor Hotels

Set to open in 2025, the resort will feature 12 tents that will be suspended 3.5 meters above the ground, with each tent strategically positioned to provide immersion into the surrounding landscapes. 

Credit: Minor Hotels

The camp will also feature a spa and wellness area, a swimming pool, a restaurant and bar, a lounge and a traditional African boma – a traditional enclosure used to protect livestock – along with a host of nature inspired programming, including canoeing, fishing, birdwatching, boat safaris, and wildlife encounters.

“We are really excited to announce this partnership with Agro Safari to develop and launch an exclusive tented camp in Zambia under our luxury Anantara flag. This represents a unique opportunity to offer unparalleled experiences to discerning travellers looking to explore outside the more well known African parks and we look forward to working closely with our partners to bring this camp to fruition,” said Dillip Rajakarier, CEO Minor Hotels and Group CEO of parent company Minor International, in a press release.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Sri Lanka Launches First Global Tourism Campaign in 16 Years

2 days ago

Sri Lanka has finally announced its plans to roll out its global tourism marketing campaign urging tourists “You’ll Come Back For More,” marking the first such campaign since 2007.  

Skift had earlier highlighted the country’s 16-year gap in robust tourism promotion. The country had developed a comprehensive consumer campaign in 2021, which had then been shelved.

The new campaign is set to unfold in phases, initially focusing on communicating the restoration of stability in the country and its readiness to welcome tourists, this will run through February. Subsequent stages will elaborate on the central theme of “You’ll come back for more,” targeting key source markets of Sri Lanka Tourism.

Ogilvy, the creative agency behind the campaign, based its strategy on insights revealing that over 30% of tourists visiting Sri Lanka are repeat travelers.

The government has also urged the private sector to play a pivotal role in attracting tourists, with Tourism Minister Harin Fernando emphasizing that the government’s responsibility was restricted to ensure an enabling environment.

Tourism Targets

This year’s target for tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka is 1.5 million, a goal viewed by some as modest given the destination’s capacity and potential.

According to the latest tourism data, Sri Lanka had welcomed 1.3 million tourists by November, with India leading as the largest contributor with almost 260,000 arrivals, followed by Russia with 168,000 tourists.

The country plans to welcome 2.5 million tourists next year.

Free Tourist Visas

As part of a broader strategy to rejuvenate the tourism sector and achieve a target of 5 million arrivals by 2026, Sri Lanka announced issuing free tourist visas until March for visitors from seven countries — India, China, Russia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

The backdrop to these efforts includes last year’s wave of anti-government protests, beginning in April, triggered by severe shortages of food, fuel, and medicines. The country declared a state of emergency, facing what is considered its most significant economic crisis.


IDEAS: Air New Zealand Debuts Hollywood Inspired Christmas Campaign

3 days ago

Air New Zealand has taken inspiration from Hollywood with the launch of ‘The Great Christmas Chase’, a new stunt-filled campaign video designed to celebrate the upcoming busy festive season.

The 90 second advert sees Air New Zealand flight attendant Shanti Tucker battle through an airport and a host of obstacles – including rogue candy canes and a tongue in cheek experience with a mobility buggy – whilst trying to reunite a family with a lost gift.

In a press release to accompany the launch of the campaign, Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Manager Leanne Geraghty says the action-packed film ‘demonstrates Air New Zealand’s commitment to creating unforgettable moments for its customers – especially during the busy Christmas season.’

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Emaar Revives Hotel Project in Ras Al Khaimah, Now Five Times Bigger

4 days ago

The Address resort is going ahead in Ras Al Khaimah. First announced in 2018, Dubai operators Emaar never gave the luxe property a firm opening date, until now. The property will open in 2028, one year after the Wynn resort on the same off-shore Al Marjan island of the emirate.

The project has a whole new master plan, now leaning heavily towards upmarket branded residences. When it was announced five years ago, it had 234 apartments planned. Plans now show more than 1,100 units spread across six standalone towers surrounding the resort. There will also be villas and townhouses.

Apartments start from $462,000, going into the millions for larger units.

Since the announcement of the Wynn at the beginning of 2022, the northern emirate has experienced a surge in high-end development agreements. The hub of these deals is predominantly the artificial Al Marjan Island, a four-island archipelago located off the coast, where the Wynn is also situated. Marriott has plans for four five-star properties, including Le Meridien, a JW, a Westin, and a W hotel. Additionally, smaller and more exclusive operators, such as Nobu, are establishing a presence on the island. In midscale, Rove, backed by Emaar, is set to open on Marjan Island, and a locally established brand named Earth, originally co-founded by the emirate’s current tourism chief, is preparing to open its own resorts.

Emaar did not immediately respond to Skift’s request for comment.


IDEAS: Air Canada Introduces New Tracking Tool for Baggage and Mobility Aids

5 days ago

Air Canada is launching a new feature within its mobile app that will enable customers to track their baggage and mobility aids in real time.

Air Canada Customers Can Now Track their Baggage and Mobility Aids while Travelling in Canada.
Credit: Air Canada

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than one in every 100 wheelchairs and scooters that travel in the cargo hold of an aircraft on domestic flights are damaged, delayed, or lost.

The tracking feature, which is integrated into the Air Canada mobile app, will provide updates on items at key milestones throughout the journey, and has been implemented to provide travelers with ‘added confidence and improve the overall customer experience through greater convenience,’ according to Air Canada.

Although only available to customers traveling within Canada at present, Air Canada expects the feature to be expanded to U.S. flights next year. 

“At Air Canada, we know that apart from a safe, comfortable journey, the prompt delivery of baggage and mobility aids is a top priority for our customers. We already achieve a very high reliability rate, but to further elevate our service we are introducing a new tracking feature in the Air Canada mobile app to give customers real-time information, greater certainty about the movement of their belongings during their trip, and heightened convenience,” said Tom Stevens, vice president, customer experience and operations strategy at Air Canada in a release.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Travel Technology

RoomRaccoon Acquires Similar Hotel Tech System iHotelligence

1 week ago

RoomRaccoon, a cloud-based hotel tech system, said this week that it is expanding its presence in Ireland via acquisition.

Netherlands-based RoomRaccoon bought iHotelligence, a similar company based in Dublin.

Terms were not disclosed.

RoomRaccoon’s core products include a property management system, booking engine, channel manager, and payments system geared toward independent hotels with between 10 and 100 rooms. The company has more than 2,000 hotel clients with more than 25,000 rooms. 

Founded in 2012, iHotelligence products include an on-site property management system, booking engine, and channel manager. Clients include boutique hotels and independent hotels.

The deal gives clients of iHotelligence access to a more advanced cloud-based platform, the partners said. That includes access to add-ons, such as more dynamic pricing tools, automated upsell capabilities, housekeeping management, and more. 

RoomRaccoon said it remains financially independent since it was founded in 2017.

RoomRaccoon plans to expand business in Europe and North America.

Short-Term Rentals

Luxury Hospitality Brand Inspirato Again Risks Losing Its Nasdaq Listing

1 week ago

Just more than a month after luxury hospitality brand Inspirato executed a reverse stock split to meet Nasdaq listing requirements, the company said Friday it received a Nasdaq notice on November 27 that its market cap fell below the $15 million stock exchange minimum for the 30 days that ended a week earlier.


A property that was listed on Inspirato. Source: Inspirato

At market close in New York on Friday, Inspirato’s market cap was $14,949,000, according to Yahoo Finance, and that was just a tad lower — $51,000 — than the threshold.

“The Notice has no immediate effect on the listing or trading of the Company’s Class A Common Stock or warrants on the Nasdaq Global Market,” Inspirato stated in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, adding that it will have until May 28, 2024 to meet the requirements to keep its stock listed on Nasdaq.

The company’s market cap would have to close at $15 million or more for 10 business days in a row to get back in Nasdaq’s good graces.

“The Company is currently evaluating various courses of action to regain compliance … ,” Inspirato stated.

Inspirato, like several other companies that went public in SPAC mergers, has been struggling since its debut in mid-February 2022. It recently appointed a new CEO, but in the third quarter the company continued to burn substantial cash, and saw its revenue decline.


IDEAS: IHG Hotels & Resorts Launches Experiential Winter Chalet Campaign

1 week ago

IHG Hotels & Resorts is getting into the holiday spirit with the launch of a new experiential winter campaign at a selection of its American properties. 

The Winter Chalet at Hotel Indigo Williamsburg
Credit: Roger Davies / IHG Hotels & Resorts

Select InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Vignette Collection and Hotel Indigo properties will be transformed into ‘Winter Wonderlands’ for the holiday season by incorporating chalet-inspired installations and programming.

The 17 feet tall chalet structures, which will feature in the lobbies of select properties, have been designed and constructed by architect Tristan Al-Haddad and feature interiors curated by interior designer Corey Damen Jenkins.

Each installation features a bar that will serve seasonal beverages throughout the day and will include regular programming for the duration of the campaign.

Outside of the Winter Chalet installations, every hotel across IHG’s Luxury & Lifestyle Americas portfolio will provide guests with some form of winter inspired programming, including festive dining experiences and chalet inspired room activations.

The campaign will run from December 1, 2023 through February 29, 2024.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.