Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tourism

Climate Change Not a Top Focus for U.S. Tourism Marketers: Report

6 months ago

Only 8% of U.S. tourism boards strongly prioritize addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero. In contrast, 62% of European tourism boards and 29% of Canadian tourism boards have made it a top priority. That’s according to Sojern’s “State of Destination Marketing 2024.”

The report is based on a survey of over 300 destination marketers by the Digital Tourism Think Tank, commissioned by travel marketing platform Sojern, and endorsed by Brand USA, Destination Canada and the European Travel Commission.

Compared to other regions, regenerative tourism is not a strong strategic focus for U.S. tourism boards. Only 28% in the U.S. have made it a focus, while over 40% of Canadian and European tourism boards have made it one.

Tourism boards differ regionally when it comes to diversity and inclusion. In the U.S. and Canada, over half of tourism boards prioritize celebrating racial and ethnic diversity in their marketing.  In Europe, however, 23% do so.

In addition, Canadian tourism boards stood out for their representation of Indigenous Peoples at 71%, according to the report.

When it comes to reaching travelers with disabilities, over 40% of American and European tourism boards put it as a top priority in their marketing. About 12% of Canadian tourism boards, on the other hand, do so.

Below are updates based on comments from Sojern. The headline was also updated.

  • The survey’s original question was, “How are the following prioritized in your strategy?” U.S. tourism boards still prioritize climate change and net zero gas emissions commitments but not above other focuses like biodiversity and natural environment, diversity, equity and inclusion, and so on.
  • The question above was intended to gauge how tourism boards are focused on sustainability overall, not just climate change.
  • Europe has government policies on sustainability that the U.S. does not. That will explain some regional differences.
  • Tourism board priorities are set by their funding partners. In certain destinations, climate change will logically be less of a priority than other aspects of sustainability.

Tourism

Europe’s Upcoming Ban on ‘Climate Neutral’ Marketing to Affect Travel Brand Greenwashing

8 months ago

The European Union is on track to ban marketing claims such as “climate neutral” by 2026 that scientifically based certification can’t validate.

Claims such as “carbon neutral,” “environmentally friendly,” and “eco” will require companies to verify their products’ merits through third-party certification schemes. 

Travel companies are among the industries that may be affected by the looming ban. For example, airlines may need to change booking interfaces that offer “climate-neutral” flights in exchange for buying carbon offsets supporting projects that lack credibility.

The rules okayed on Wednesday still need formal approval from the European Union parliament and its member states — expected in November. But it would be procedurally rare for the rules to be denied.

The move came on the same day United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “humanity has opened the gates to hell” in its failure to stop rising carbon emissions and a forecasted increase in extreme weather.

EU press release on its climate claims rules

Airlines

Europe Adopts Sustainable Aviation Fuel Mandates From 2025

8 months ago

The European Parliament on Wednesday approved the bloc’s sustainable aviation fuel mandates in the push to cut aviation emissions dramatically.

The mandates, which are part of the European Union’s Fit for 55 program to cut carbon emissions, require that 2% of all aviation fuel used in the bloc must be low-emission sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, from 2025. SAF is typically defined as having at least half the lifecycle carbon emissions as standard fossil jet fuels. The sustainable fuel mandate steps up to 6% in 2030, 34% in 2040, and 70% by 2050.

Synthetic fuels, for example those derived from so-called green hydrogen, must make up 1.2% of SAF usage from 2030 and 35% by 2050.

“This is a tremendous step towards the decarbonization of aviation,” European Parliament representative José Ramón Bauzá Díaz said. “It is now time for EU governments to implement the new rules and support the industry to ensure the cost-effective deployment of sustainable aviation fuels across Europe.”

Finnair plane with sustainable aviation fuel
(Finnair)

The mandates come amid growing calls from European airlines for financial support to achieve the SAF targets. Production of the low-emission fuels currently represent a fraction of a percent of global aviation fuel demand. Ramping up production can take years as would-be producers source feedstocks and secure the necessary approvals to open processing facilities.

“The EU should do what the United States is doing already [and] incentivize SAF,” KLM CEO Marjan Rintel told Airline Weekly in June.

The U.S., rather than mandate SAF usage, provided producers and distributors tax incentives for the fuels in 2022’s Inflation Reduction Law.

Many, however, believe that a combination of SAF incentives and mandates — the proverbial carrots and sticks — are necessary to both boost production of the fuels and bring costs down to near parity with fossil fuels. SAF typically costs several times more per gallon than conventional jet fuel.

The EU’s new mandates have been in the works for several years. The European Parliament first passed them last year but had to vote on a revised plan after tripartite negotiations with the European Commission and Council of the EU, similar to the reconciliation process between the U.S. House and Senate after they pass two different versions of the same bill.

Cruises

IDEAS: Eco-Conscious Cruising Via Emission-Free Yachts

10 months ago

As revenge luxury travel and yacht charters for high net worth travelers shifts to exotic locations at slightly more affordable prices, the introduction of emission-free yachting may now allow these private experiences to be a more eco-conscious option, as well.

Sunreef Yachts has announced that work has begun on the development of its latest sustainable sailing superyacht, known as the Zero Cat. The new emission-free catamaran from the Polish shipyard is set to measure over 90 feet long and will combine hydrogen power and eclectic compulsion to achieve a ‘new level of eco-conscious cruising,’ according to Sunreef.

Credit: Sunreef Yachts

Building upon the success of their patented ‘solar skin’, which can already be seen in operation across its eco collection of yachts, the Zero Cat will use an on-board hydrogen generator to produce hydrogen from methanol, providing ‘self-sufficiency and unlimited autonomy’ for the vessel.

Sunreef states that the technology will generate emission-free energy to power both the electric propulsion and hotel loads for the vessel, and have provided a graphic of how the system will work, which you can take a look at below:

Credit: Sunreef Yachts

“Our goal is to revolutionize the industry by offering discerning customers an exceptional zero-emission sailing experience. This project represents a milestone in our ongoing commitment to protecting our oceans and preserving the natural beauty of the seas,” said Nicolas Lapp, CTO & co-founder of Sunreef Yachts.


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.

Tour Operators

Intrepid Travel’s ‘Planet-Friendly’ Ad Banned

12 months ago

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered Intrepid Travel to remove a misleading advert. While the Australian headquartered travel company is known for being transparent about its climate-conscious approach as a B-Corp company, the misstep points to the broader issue of how easily sustainability can lead to perceived greenwashing within the industry.

The advert featured two women in front of the Giza Pyramids in Egypt with the text, “People and planet-friendly small group adventures since 1989”. It formed part of a billboard campaign in the UK’s London Underground in November 2022.

The ASA received a complaint that the phrase ‘planet-friendly’ was misleading about the impact of Intrepid’s holidays on the environment.

While the regulator noted Intrepid Travel’s comments that it did not offer flights as part of this particular adventure tour, the understanding that the claim was a narrow reference to their tour offering was unclear.

The ASA considered the phrase “people and planet-friendly small group adventures” to be “an absolute claim”, implying “that taking part in an Intrepid tour caused no environmental damage throughout its full life cycle”. Yet, together with the presentation of the Giza Pyramids in Egypt it indicated that “such tours were international and that it would be necessary to travel, in most cases by flying, to take part in their tours,” the regulator detailed in its ruling.

“We considered that this impression was further reinforced by the claim not referring specifically to the tours offered by Intrepid Travel, and considered that, in the absence of qualifying information, “adventures” was likely to be interpreted by consumers as referring to holidays as a whole, which would include flights to and from the destination country,” according to the ASA ruling.

Intrepid responded to the ruling, with its EMEA managing director Zina Bencheikh calling it a “positive step that regulators are becoming more stringent around advertising claims related to climate change and the environment and they will investigate even just one complaint.”

“The ASA’s ruling on ‘planet-friendly’ was a good learning opportunity for us,” said Bencheikh. “This will encourage all travel companies to be more mindful of how they talk about their impact on the environment. Regulation is rapidly evolving. It’s up to us to not only do good work, but find the clearest way to communicate it to our customers.”

Intrepid’s chief customer officer Leigh Barnes further noted that when it comes to talking about environmental impact in travel advertising it was better to avoid and remove subjective and vague language like “Friendly” and “Safe”, as well as consider the entire life cycle of the trip.

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.

Airlines

Airline Ticket Prices Are Fairer Indicator of Passenger Carbon Emissions Than Seat Size — Study

1 year ago

Premium, business or first-class seat are regarded as more harmful to the environment, because the passenger is taking up more space on the aircraft. Most countries tax them more, too.

But according to a new study, allocating passenger aircraft emissions using airfares rather than travel class gives a more accurate idea of individual contributions, prompting calls for a tax rethink.

Researchers at the UK’s University College London describe how including airfares in calculations shows which passengers contribute the most revenue to the airline operating the aircraft, thereby allowing the plane to fly.

Although premium seats are more expensive than economy, they found many late bookings in economy class, often made for business trips or by high income travelers, cost as much as, or more than, premium seats.

“The paper shows we should follow the money when calculating emissions of individual travelers, as it is revenue that decides whether an airline can operate a plane or not,” said lead author Dr. Stijn van Ewijk.

“Someone who has paid twice as much as a fellow traveler contributes twice as much to the revenue of the airline and should be allocated twice the emissions. The seat size of each travel class, which is currently used to allocate emissions, is only a rough approximation of how much passengers pay,” he said.

Implementing a tax that is proportionate to the price of the ticket could make the total costs of flying fairer, the study suggests. People buying the most expensive tickets would pay the highest tax, encouraging them to seek alternatives. It could increase estimates of corporate emissions because it allocates more to expensive late bookings, which are often made for business purposes.

The study used data from the Airline Origin Survey database.

Estimating passenger emissions from airfares supports equitable climate action” was published on Wednesday.

Tourism

The Top Cities for Recent Car Rental Reservations

1 year ago

Global car rentals rocketed during the end-of-year holiday break, with more than three times the amount of seven-day bookings compared to the 2019 winter holiday period.

According to data from global car-hire comparison site DiscoverCars, there were 12,646 seven-day reservations for the festive period, more than three times the amount in 2019-20, which saw 3,826 bookings.

The data is based on the 18 days from Dec. 20, 2022 to Jan. 7, 2023. Seven-day rentals tend to be the most common duration for vacations.

Portugal has meanwhile proved a popular tourist destination over the past two years, not least as a top digital nomad destination, but the rental figures show just how resilient the country is.

Capital city Lisbon has more than doubled the number of car rental pickups in recent weeks, compared to before the pandemic. In the space of 18 days there were 4,220 pickups, compared to 1,782 in the same period in 2019/20.

Another Portuguese city, historic Porto, was the third most popular destination with 1,985 pickups, trailing Auckland in New Zealand. The Portuguese islands of Madeira also made it into the top 10.

Late last year, European destinations had the edge slightly over other parts of the world.

The comparison site also predicts car rental companies’ fleet composition will change within the next three years, with electric vehicles likely comprising a majority of rentals by 2025.

This week Hertz announced a push into Europe, making 25,000 Tesla and Polestar cars available to Uber drivers.

DiscoverCars reviewed internal data from 143 countries.

Top cities for reservations in 2019/20 No. of reservations Top cities for reservations in 2022/23 No. of reservations
Lisbon, Portugal 1,782 Lisbon, Portugal 4,220
Porto, Portugal 1,011 Auckland, New Zealand 2,305
Auckland, New Zealand 762 Porto, Portugal 1,985
Marrakech, Morocco 601 Tenerife, Spain 1,704
Orlando, Florida 584 Milan, Italy 1,610
Dublin, Ireland 563 Queenstown, New Zealand 1,585
Malaga, Spain 532 Madeira, Portugal 1,312
Miami, Florida 481 Marrakech, Morocco 1,301
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 452 Cancun, Mexico 1,290
London, United Kingdom 434 Catania, Italy 1,271

Business Travel

Hertz, Uber Bringing 25,000 Electric Cars to European Cities

1 year ago

After renting out some 50,000 electric cars to Uber drivers across North America, Hertz is now taking its partnership with the ride hailing giant to Europe, where it will make 25,000 Tesla and Polestar vehicles available.

The European expansion begins in London this month, before it adds other European capitals including Paris and Amsterdam.

The expansion follows Hertz Global Holdings’ announcement it would order up to 175,000 General Motors electric vehicles over the next five years. It starts taking delivery of Chevrolet Bolt EVs and Bolt EUVs in the coming months.

“… We are moving in a very big way toward electric vehicles and Hertz has taken a rather aggressive strategic stance,” Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr recently told Skift.

Uber, meanwhile, wants to become a fully electric platform in Europe by 2030. “Expanding our partnership with Hertz into Europe will significantly boost our transition to zero-emissions, helping drivers reduce running costs and cleaning up urban transport,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Hertz’s strategy is to build one of the largest fleets of rental electric vehicles in the world, and believes they are increasingly appealing to younger drivers.

Business Travel

Ashton Kutcher’s Venture Firm Leads $15 Million Investment in Climate Tech Startup

1 year ago

Actor (and travel tech investor) Ashton Kutcher is at it again, as his Sound Ventures venture capital firm has co-led a $15 million investment in climate tech company Chooose.

It’s the latest in a long chapter of travel investing for Kutcher, revealed on Friday, with previous deals including Affirm, Airbnb, Hipmunk and Citymaps, which was bought by TripAdvisor .

Norway-based Chooose, which offers climate solutions such as carbon offsetting, carbon removals and sustainable aviation fuel, already works with global companies and airlines including British Airways, Air Canada and Japan Airlines. It also works with Booking.com, Trip.com and SAP Concur.

Startups like this have fast emerged out of the need to give companies better insight into their carbon footprints when flying. This extra capital will go towards scaling up its platform, and further “embed climate action solutions into customer experiences.” It also plans to expand into new geographies, thanks to the funding provided by Soundwaves, which is the sustainability-focused vehicle of Kutcher’s fund.

GenZero, a decarbonisation-focused investment company owned by Singapore’s Temasek, also co-led the investment round. Existing investors Shell Ventures and Vinyl Capital also participated in the strategic capital round. Other current investors include travel technology giant Amadeus and Contrarian VC.

UPDATE: This article was amended to remove the series B mention, which had originally been provided.