Skift Travel News Blog

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

Travel Technology

Tripla Expands Into Taiwan Via Surehigh Acquisition

2 months ago

Tripla, which provides a booking engine to hotels in Japan and Southeast Asia, has acquired a hotel tech company in Taiwan.

Tokyo-based Tripla said it acquired 91% of Surehigh, which provides more than 1,200 Taiwanese hotels with a reservation engine and channel manager. The other 9% of the company was acquired by a venture capital firm, according to Tripla spokesperson.

Surehigh is now a subsidiary of Tripla.

That brings Tripla’s client base to nearly 6,600 hotels, the company said. 

Besides the reservation system, Tripla offers an AI ​​chatbot for hotels as well as marketing automation services. 

The company in September acquired a majority stake in BookandLink, which provides software to help hotels track and manage sales that take place through third-party distribution channels. 

Tripla has said its goal is to create a more comprehensive booking and distribution platform for hoteliers, as well as expand business to Taiwan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia. The plan is to fully integrate all the technologies in the next few years and release new products. 

Tripla started trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in November 2022 with an initial public offering of $5.6 million (¥823.2 million). The company’s stock is down over 31% year to date.

Tourism

Middle East Tourism Surpassed Pre-Pandemic Levels Before Israel-Hamas War

3 months ago

The Middle East exceeded its pre-pandemic international tourist arrival numbers by over 20% through September this year, according to the UN World Tourism Organization’s latest data. That’s before the Israel-Hamas conflict started in early October.

UNWTO accredited the Middle East’s performance to new visa facilitation measures, the development of new destinations, new tourism-related projects and hosting large events.

Other regions are still making a recovery. Europe took up the biggest share of global tourism at 56%, having welcomed 550 million international tourists. The region hit 94% of its pre-pandemic level. Strong U.S. and intra-regional demand is driving the rebound.

Africa hit 92% of its pre-pandemic international tourism level. The Americas reached 88% thanks to strong U.S. demand for travel to the Caribbean.

Asia-Pacific reached 62% due to its slower reopening to international travel. There are large differences within the region: South Asia recovered to 95% while North-East Asia was only at about 50%.

International tourism overall recovered 87% of its pre-pandemic level in the first nine months of 2023. About 975 million tourists traveled internationally between January and September 2023, up 38% from the same period in 2022.

This year, international tourism spending is projected to $1.4 trillion in, 93% of its 2019 level.

Tourism

International Tourism Hit 84% of Pre-Pandemic Level

5 months ago

International tourism reached 84% of its pre-pandemic level between January and July 2023, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Around 700 million tourists traveled internationally.

The Middle East had the strongest international tourism demand among all regions, having exceeded 20% above its pre-pandemic level between January and July. 

Other regions have not exceeded their pre-pandemic level. Europe hit 91% thanks to strong intra-regional demand and travel from the U.S., according to UN WTO. Africa reached 92% and the Americas reached 87%.

Asia-Pacific was far behind other regions in its recovery, having reached 61%. Many destinations and source markets in the region like China weren’t open for travel until the end of 2022 or earlier this year. 

UNWTO expects pent-up demand and increased air connectivity in Asia-Pacific will bring international tourism to 80% to 95% of its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2023.

The challenging economic environment could slow the recovery. UNWTO pointed to persisting inflation and rising oil prices leading to higher transport and accommodation costs for tourists.

Travel Technology

South Korean Hospitality Tech Firm Onda Raises $10 Million

1 year ago

South Korean hospitality tech company Onda, announced on Thursday that it has raised $10 million in its Series-B funding round.

Led by South Korea-based private equity firm TS Investment, the investors in this round included Industrial Bank of Korea as well as other South Korean investment companies like NAU IB Capital, Square Ventures, K Bridge Ventures, and Breeze Investment.

We confirmed on the ground that the domestic tourism industry was rebounding, and made our decision to invest in Onda, said TS Investment in a statement.

Specializing in online booking solution, global distribution system and property management, Onda has so far raised a total of $25.5 million.

In its pre-series B funding round, the company had raised $8 million.

With the Series B funding, Onda plans to accelerate its efforts on the digital transformation of the domestic hospitality industry, and develop a system to attract inbound travel, the company said in a statement.

The company recently launched Dive — a hotel property management system that it had been developing for the past two years.

Onda is now gearing up for its overseas expansion with a launch in the Southeast Asian hotel market. “Onda plans to provide a variety of solutions to assist outbound Korean tourists finding local hotels,” the company said.

“We plan to support the growth of Korea’s tourism industry in this post-Covid stage, both domestically and abroad,” Hyun-seok Oh, CEO of Onda said.

In its last earnings report, Onda had reported a gross merchandise value of $81 million in the first half of 2022, compared to $40.5 million in the first half of 2021.

The company has also said that it plans to directly operate residences and hotels, after successful trial operations in 2021.

Tourism

India Makes Covid Test Mandatory for Arrivals From China and 5 More Asian Countries

1 year ago

India is making a PCR Covid test mandatory for inbound arrivals from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea, from January 1.

Passengers arriving in India from any of these six countries would be required to upload results of tests not older than 72 hours before departure along with a self-declaration on the Air Suvidha portal.

However, at the time of writing this story, the Air Suvidha portal was still not functional and the message reads, “You no longer need to complete the Air Suvidha Form.” 

Launched in August 2020 for international passengers to submit a self-declaration of their health status, the Air Suvidha portal, a digital health and travel document, had been discontinued in November this year.

Fearing another Covid surge, India had been conducting random tests of around 2 percent of international passengers flying into the country.

On Wednesday, officials at the Indian health ministry informed that of the nearly 6,000 passengers tested over the last three days, 39 were found to be positive.

Airlines

AirAsia to Now Launch a Low-Cost Carrier in Cambodia

1 year ago

AirAsia Aviation Group on Friday announced a joint venture with Cambodia-based Sivilai Asia to launch a new low-cost carrier — AirAsia Cambodia.

The airline, in which AirAsia will be the majority partner, expects to commence operations in late 2023.

Cambodia is the fifth Southeast Asian destination that AirAsia will be foraying into after Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Speaking to the media, Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A, AirAsia’s parent company, said all of the group’s future airlines would be based in the region as this is an area they know best and have a strong brand presence.

In 2020, the aviation group shut down operations of AirAsia Japan and last month the company announced that it has sold off its remaining 16.67 percent stake in AirAsia India to Tatas-owned Air India.

AirAsia plans to touch pre-Covid levels by the second quarter of 2023 and in true Tony Fernandes style the Capital A CEO said he’s confident AirAsia Cambodia would be profitable “from the get go.”

“Cambodia is a market that is familiar to us and where we have deep infrastructure in place,” Fernandes said.

AirAsia Aviation Group is the largest foreign airline and the second largest airline group overall operating into Cambodia in terms of capacity, according to group CEO Bo Lingam.

Pre-pandemic, AirAsia operated 90 weekly flights from Malaysia and Thailand to Cambodia and is currently flying about 49 weekly flights.

“The value of AirAsia’s network is an insurmountable asset; it will be another flag of extensive connectivity in Cambodia and into the region, namely China, India and North Asia,” Fernandes said.

Currently, there are no direct flights between India and Cambodia.

Reacting to earlier reports of a proposed merger of AirAsia and AirAsia X, Fernandes had clarified on Monday that the group proposed to form a separate aviation group comprising all its airlines.

Tourism

Dubai’s Global Hotel Alliance Sees Upside From Asia’s Reopening

1 year ago

United Arab Emirates-headquartered Global Hotel Alliance has seen a strong post-pandemic travel rebound from its Asian properties, as well as a shift in travel behaviors.

Its hotels in Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand, reported growth in revenue of 535 percent and 345 percent respectively for the first nine months of this year, compared to the same period in 2021.

Total revenue generated by the 22 million members of its GHA Discovery loyalty program reached $900 million for the period, up 68 percent on 2021, and reaching 84 percent of pre-pandemic levels on a like- for-like basis.

August was also the alliance’s second strongest-performing month in its history.

The umbrella organization for independent hospitality brands was also boosted by improved performances across Europe. Earlier this year Madrid-headquartered NH Group joined Global Hotel Alliance, bringing with it over 350 hotels and 10 million loyalty program members

London experienced growth of 300 percent.

More than 60 percent of GHA Discovery revenues came from international stays, with this proportion growing strongly over the summer months. The highest-spending international travelers came from the U.S. ($76 million), UK ($71m) and Germany ($60m).

The average length of stays across all markets globally increased further in the third quarter of 2022 versus the same period in 2021. Europe, for example, has a 64 percent increase. The average was 20 percent.

Business travel has fared less well. The average daily rate for corporate transactions went up by 27 percent In the first half of the year, compared to the 2021 first quarter, but international business travel lagged at 60 percent in the first half of 2022, but the company said it was expecting that figure to increase in the second half. However, Domestic business travel has recovered to 90 percent of 2019 levels.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Singapore’s Ascott to Acquire Serviced Apartment Company Oakwood

2 years ago

Singapore-based Ascott is buying global serviced apartment provider Oakwood Worldwide from Mapletree Investments, increasing its global portfolio by 81 properties and about 15,000 units.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is set to be completed in the third quarter of 2022, after which 8,500 Oakwood operational units are expected to immediately contribute to Ascott’s recurring fee income streams.

Ascott parent company CapitaLand Investment expects the acquisition to take the serviced apartment operator’s global presence to more than 150,000 units in about 900 properties across more than 200 cities in 39 countries.

With Oakwood coming onboard, Ascott is confident of achieving its target of 160,000 units globally ahead of 2023.

Following the acquisition, the new markets that would be added to the Ascott portfolio include Cheongju in South Korea; Zhangjiakou and Qingdao in China; Dhaka in Bangladesh as well as Washington D.C.

Mapletree acquired Oakwood in February 2017.

Other Ascott takeovers include Quest Apartment Hotels in 2017. In the same year, Ascott invested in Synergy Global Housing, a corporate housing provider in the U.S. In 2018, Ascott acquired Indonesian hotel operator Tauzia Hotel Management to enter the mid-scale business hotel segment.