Skift Travel News Blog

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

Hotels

IDEAS: Tribe Nation to Debut in China with Urban Inspired Hotel

8 months ago

Accor has announced the signing of the first Tribe Nation hotel in China, in partnership with Guiyang Chengnan Investment and Development Company Ltd.

Credit: Accor

Located in in Huaxi District, a National All-For-One Tourism Zone in the southern part of Guiyang, the 136-room hotel is set to open in January 2025, and will offer a ‘new urban lifestyle hospitality experience to modern and Gen Z Chinese travelers.’

Credit: Accor

According to a release from Accor, Tribe Nation Guiyang South will be designed to provide guests with ‘a creative hub to relax among a like-minded community of locals and travelers’ and ‘surprise travelers with an original and creative type of hospitality that redefines the hotel experience and amplifies style.’

Credit: Accor

The hotel will also feature eco-friendly amenities, two restaurants, a gym, swimming pool, and meetings and function spaces available for celebrations or conferences. 

Tribe Nation Guiyang South is one of 50 new Tribe hotels that are being built globally, with the brand expecting up to 100 new addresses to open over the next five years.


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.

Tourism

China Announces Visa-Free Entry for 6 Countries

8 months ago

In a strategic move to jumpstart its tourism sector, China has declared temporary exemption from visa requirements for citizens from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia.

Announcing this on Friday, the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, Mao Ning said the exemption period is set to last from December 1 to November 30, 2024.

Citizens from these six countries would be allowed to visit China for various purposes, including business, tourism, sightseeing, visiting relatives and friends, or transiting, for a period of up to 15 days without the need for a visa.

China’s recent initiatives to facilitate travel extend beyond this announcement. Just last week, the country broadened its visa-free transit policies to include 54 countries, with Norway as the latest addition. Foreign travelers transiting through China to visit a third country, can enjoy a six-day stay in specific Chinese cities without the hassle of obtaining a visa.

According to the National Immigration Administration, by the end of October, the number of foreigners visiting China had surged to 26.51 million.

China International Culture Association recently inked a three-year memorandum of understanding with online travel company Trip.com Group to promote inbound tourism.

Part of this collaboration involves supporting the Nihao! China campaign, an initiative launched by the China International Culture Association. The campaign aims to cultivate and promote cultural exchanges.

In a bid to enhance the overall visitor experience, Trip.com Group will also collaborate closely with Chinese cultural centers, tourism boards, and other organizations, working together to showcase the diverse and enriching tourism experiences that China has to offer. As China opens its doors, these collaborative efforts aim to position the country as a premier destination for global travelers.

Over the next three years, Trip.com Group had said it plans to invest in platform technology, marketing and promotion, and product integration to accelerate the development of inbound tourism in China.

Tourism

China and U.S. to Improve Tourism Ties, Says Chinese President Xi

8 months ago

The U.S. and China will improve air connectivity and streamline visa processing, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in public remarks on Wednesday. Xi made the remarks at a dinner hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and US-China Business Council. 

The dinner followed Xi’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco. 

“Today, President Biden and I reached an important consensus,” said Xi. “Our two countries will roll out more measures to facilitate travels and promote people-to-people exchanges, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism, and streamlining visa application procedures.”

Long visa wait times and weak air connectivity prevented the full resumption of Chinese tourism to the U.S. Without Chinese tourism, the U.S. can’t fully recover from the pandemic, Brand USA CEO and President Chris Thompson has said.

Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists were the U.S.’s highest spenders. “Before the pandemic, 2.6 million visitors a year spent about $15 billion. There wasn’t another market anywhere close,” said U.S. Travel Association CEO and President Geoff Freeman at the Skift Global Forum. “This is a market that in many senses will make or break what we do on the international side.”

Tourism

South Africa Hosts BRICS Meeting, Targets Recovery of Pre-Pandemic Tourism Levels

9 months ago

South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille hosted a BRICS Tourism Ministers Meeting on Tuesday focusing on tourism recovery between the bloc of nations.

Tourism growth related to direct flights among Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa was discussed as a follow-up to the BRICS Summit the country hosted in August.

From January to August, the latest international visitor figures for South Africa rose to 5.5 million international tourists, a 70.6% increase compared to the same period in 2022. However, these figures are still 19% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

The Skift Travel Health Index, which assesses performance in key sectors such as aviation and hotels, shows that while India and Brazil’s travel recovery has seen steady gains in 2023, China‘s full recovery hasn’t been as clearcut as most of the global markets had expected. Russia’s war with Ukraine has significantly affected its tourism recovery, with the country continuing to see sanctions imposed against it.

Tourism

Australia Reopens to Chinese Group Tourism

10 months ago

Australia has recommenced visa processing for Chinese group travel, Australia’s Ministry of Trade and Tourism announced on Monday.

The visa processing restart follows China’s lifting of pandemic-era restrictions last month on outbound group tours to Australia, the U.S., Japan and multiple other countries.

Australia reopened its borders to international travel in March this year. Since its reopening, Chinese tourism has slowly returned. In July, it reached 79,040, which was 50% of its pre-pandemic level.

Before the pandemic, China was Australia’s largest inbound tourism market in terms of spend. In 2019, Chinese group tours spent $581 million, which was about one-third of all Chinese travel spend in Australia.

“The resumption of Chinese group tour travel will provide another welcome boost for Australia’s hard-working tourism operators,” said Australia Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell.

Airlines

American and Delta Add China Flights as Restrictions Ease

11 months ago

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines will both add more flights to China this fall and winter as geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China begin easing.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American will add three weekly nonstops for a single daily flight on the Dallas-Fort Worth-Shanghai route in January, an airline spokesperson said Wednesday. And Atlanta-based Delta will add six weekly flights for a total of 10 — once daily Seattle-Shanghai and thrice-weekly Detroit-Shanghai — on October 29, the carrier also said Wednesday.

The additions come less than a week after U.S. and Chinese officials agreed to double the number of nonstop flights between the two countries to 48 a week — 24 for airlines of each country — from October 29. A sticking point in negotiations has been U.S. demands that flights on Chinese airlines to the U.S. avoid Russian airspace, which U.S. carriers are barred from crossing. Flights were capped at 24 a week since China eased Covid-19 travel restrictions in January.

Delta plane lands in Shanghai
A Delta Boeing 777 lands at Shanghai’s Pudong airport in 2018. (hans-johnson/Flickr)

Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and United Airlines have also outlined plans to add more flights since the new frequency limit was unveiled. The three Chinese carriers each plan to operate five weekly flights through October 28, while United plans to offer at least eight weekly flights between San Francisco and both Beijing and Shanghai from November.

The flight limits have been blamed for stymieing the recovery of Chinese visitor flows to the U.S. The segment generated some $35 billion in annual spending in American cities before the pandemic.

“There won’t be a post-Covid recovery without China because it’s our number one spend market,” Brand USA President and CEO Chris Thompson said earlier in August.

Foreign airlines, like All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and Korean Air, that lack the frequency restrictions their U.S. and Chinese competitors face have picked up connecting traffic on their China flights. ANA President and CEO Shinichi Inoue said in June that the U.S.-China restrictions had created “new demand” for the airline.

In 2019, there were more than 50 daily nonstop flights — or more than 360 weekly frequencies — between the U.S. and China, according to Cirium Diio schedules.

Online Travel

Trip.com Group Offers Cash Bonuses to Employees Who Have Kids

1 year ago

Trip.com Group, the largest online travel company in the world, looks to address China’s population decline and aging demographic by offering cash incentives to employees to have kids.

Recognizing the need for a supportive working environment and the challenges posed by the population decline, the company has introduced a childcare subsidy program for its employees.

Under this program, employees who have been with the company for three years or more will receive an annual cash bonus of $1380 (RMB 10,000) for each newborn child from the child’s first birthday until the age of five.

This initiative, with a budget of $138 million (RMB 1 billion), aims to support employees in their family planning journey while promoting a healthy work-life balance.

The shift in perspective reflected by Trip.com Group signifies a broader awareness in China regarding the demographic imbalances and future challenges.

During the Skift Megatrends event in New York City in January, Skift had highlighted the significant implications for the travel industry as India surpasses an aging China as the world’s most populous country this year.

James Liang, the executive chairman of the Board of Trip.com Group and a prominent demographer in China, emphasized the importance of this childcare benefit in empowering employees to pursue both their professional ambitions and their aspirations of starting or expanding their families.

After years of advocating its one-child policy, China now grapples with the significant challenge of population decline and an aging population.

Demographers, including Liang, express concerns about the imbalance between an increasingly aged population and a diminishing number of young people, which could potentially disadvantage China in international competition.

Government projections estimate that by 2035, 30% of China’s population, or 400 million people, will be age 60 and over.

In 2019, 254 million people in China were aged 60 years or older.

In January, China’s National Bureau of Statistics indicated that the country’s population stood at 1.4 billion at the end of 2022, marking a decrease of 850,000 from the previous year.

The decline in China’s population, the first in nearly 61 years, has become a reality. The burden of supporting an expanding elderly population falls on a diminishing number of young people, raising pressing concerns about elderly care, Liang noted in a blog post earlier this year.

Moreover, a decline in the young population can hinder economic innovation and lead to a decline in entrepreneurial activities and creativity, similar to Japan’s experience, he said.

Furthermore, a shrinking young population can impede economic innovation, entrepreneurial activities, and creativity, as seen in Japan’s experience.

Various regions in China have introduced initiatives and incentives to address the population decline. These include cash rewards, extended leave, loans, tax breaks, housing subsidies, and increased paid marriage leave days.

Da Bei Nong Group, an agricultural technology company in Beijing, had announced cash rewards and extended leave for expecting parents.

While these measures aim to encourage childbirth and alleviate financial burdens, Liang emphasizes the need for long-term strategies and more comprehensive measures.

Cash subsidies alone may not be sufficient to encourage childbirth, he wrote, adding that to address the population decline effectively, reducing the costs associated with raising children, such as tax exemptions, subsidized mortgages, and affordable childcare and education, is crucial.

Additionally, overhauling the education system and reducing academic competition pressure can foster a greater willingness among young couples to have children, noted Liang.

Tourism

Middle East Exceeded Its Pre-Pandemic Tourism Level in Early 2023: UNWTO

1 year ago

The Middle East welcomed 15 percent more international tourists in the first three months of 2023 than it did for the same period in 2019, according to the UN World Tourism Organization’s latest data. 

Over 230 million people traveled internationally in the first quarter of 2023, more than double for the same period of 2022 and which is 80 percent of its pre-pandemic level, according to the UN World Tourism Organization.

Europe reached 90 percent of its pre-pandemic level in the quarter. That region’s recovery was driven by strong intra-region demand.  Africa was at 88 percent and the Americas were at about 85 percent. Asia Pacific was at 54 percent, but the UNWTO expects this will accelerate thanks to China’s reopening.

While the global tourism industry heads toward recovery, there are risks ahead. UNWTO experts pointed to the uncertainty around the global economy, high inflation, rising oil prices and the Russia-Ukraine war as factors that could impact the recovery.

UNWTO also revised its 2022 data and found that over 960 million tourists traveled last year, which was two-thirds of its prep-pandemic level.

In 2022, international visitor spending reached 64 percent of its pre-pandemic level.

Hotels

Accor Signs 10-Year Pact With China’s Jin Jiang Hotels

1 year ago

France’s Accor is to work with Jin Jiang International Hotels on developing sustainable practices that cover construction, operations and even financing.

An agreement was formalized this week in Beijing, during the Council of China-France Entrepreneurs.

The memorandum of understanding signing coincided with French president Emmanuel Macron’s visit this week. The leader was also joined by Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.

The strategic partnership with Jin Jiang is expected to last until 2033, with the “primary ambition” to promote and drive sustainable transformations across the hospitality industry, and reduce the sector’s carbon emissions. They want to reduce utility costs such as water and electricity by 10 percent, and food waste by 30 percent, across both groups by 2030.

The new partnership will also look at potential business cooperation opportunities in “green financing.”

Jin Jiang also holds about 12 percent in Accor, and is one of its biggest individual shareholders. It’s also tried to up its stake in the past.

Both groups have expressed their intention to peak carbon emissions by 2030, and become carbon neutral by 2060, Accor said.

The Chinese group will also launch Accor’s School for Change training program.

Skift Research recently published a report on how hotel companies are showing progress on greener emissions accountability.

Tourism

Asia Pacific Travel Search Volume Rose Over 50 Percent in Fourth Quarter, Expedia Says

1 year ago

Travel search volume in the Asia Pacific region rose over 50 percent year over year in the fourth quarter last year, according to Expedia Group. The region’s strong performance led global travel search volume, which rose by 10 percent year over year.

Asia Pacific’s search volume boost in the fourth quarter was likely driven by China, Japan, South Korea and other countries in the region relaxing restrictions, according to Expedia. China relaxed its Covid-19 restrictions in December. For three years, China was absent from the global tourism economy.

Longer booking windows were also more popular in the Asia-Pacific in the fourth quarter. Booking windows of 61-to 90-day windows grew by 30 percent quarter over quarter. Booking windows of 31-to-60 day windows grew by 25 percent quarter over quarter.

Asia Pacific travelers also stayed at destinations longer. Average length of stay increased by nearly 5 percent year over year. For the month of December alone, Asia Pacific traveler stays rose nearly 30 percent year over year.