Skift Breaking News Blog

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

Travel Booking

Europe’s Multi-Modal Travel Platform Omio Raises $80 Million

7 days ago

Multi-modal transportation platform Omio has raised $80 million, with plans to expand via new partnerships, acquisitions and further growth into the U.S. after Europe-wide expansion.

Omio launched in North America in 2020, but was then hit by the pandemic. However revenue has recovered to more than double pre-pandemic levels, and according to reports founder and CEO Naren Shaam said the U.S. market had “bounced back.”

The Berlin-based travel app, which integrates more than 1,000 transportation providers across trains, buses, ferries, cars, airport transfers as well as flights, may also be able to tap into increased demand for sustainable travel (it claims that one in four customers change their bookings from flights to trains), as well as travel’s holy grail of the connected trip.

Earlier this year Omio helped build a new international website for the UK’s London North Eastern Railway, to make train travel easier to book for overseas customers. The rail company counts 10 countries as its global market, including China, Japan, Spain, South Korea and Italy. The new search and booking engine lets customers in those countries purchase tickets in their own language and currency.

In March it added a partnership with CheckMyBus, a global intercity bus search engine, while it also has collaborations in place with Kayak, Huawei and Portugal’s state-owned railway company.

Omio’s Series E funding came from new investors Lazard Asset Management and Stack Capital Group. Existing investors NEA, Temasek and funds managed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management also contributed.

In 2020 Omio raised $100 million to fund the purchase of other travel companies, after buying Australia-based Rome2Rio in 2019.

Tourism

Thailand to Further Relax Entry Rules for Tourists on July 1

1 week ago

Thailand will end its requirement for pre-travel “Thailand Pass” registration for foreigners on July 1, its embassy has said. Proof of travel insurance, of at least $10,000 coverage for medical treatments,  will also no longer be mandatory.

However, they will still need to show proof of vaccination or a Covid-19 negative test result.

The tourism-reliant country has suffered over the past few years, and is taking a range of measures to kickstart its economy.

These include delisting cannabis as a narcotic drug, which while designed to boost medical and health purposes will also encourage more backpackers to its hedonistic beaches. It’s also extending the service hours of bars and pubs, according to reports.

The relaxation follows a similar lifting of rules that began June 1 for Thai nationals, who since that date are no longer required to register using the Thailand Pass. In May, the country lifted the requirement for vaccinated tourists to take a Covid-19 test before their arrival.

Other destinations including New Zealand and Egypt are also easing their requirements for foreign visitors.

Business Travel

International Business Travel Unlikely to Recover Until 2026 — Report

2 weeks ago

Despite the euphoria around the return of international business travel, a data analytics firm has predicted a gloomier outlook.

GlobalData has said it is unlikely to recover until at least 2026.

It’s singled out the complexity of business travel, which it said still faces several added layers of complexity that affect consumer behaviour, purchase decisions, and general operations.

“Despite some encouraging signs of revival for the overall travel industry in 2022, the business travel sector is witnessing a slower-than-expected recovery, particularly regarding international travel,” it reported.

Those challenges will persist over the next four years, it said, adding that another prominent disruption was the rising cost of living fuelled by the ongoing energy crisis, due to “low energy reserves due to the pandemic and the current geopolitical situation between Russia and Ukraine.”

These increased energy costs are putting further pressure on businesses that are seeing operational overheads soar, with the result that business travel is no longer a priority for companies, it claimed.

Its Tourism Demands and Flows Database also found that international business travel fell by 78.4 percent in 2020, before falling a further 7.9 percent in 2021.

Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line Posts a $1 Billion First-Quarter Loss

2 months ago

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd has reported a net loss of $1 billion for the first quarter of this year, as the Omicron variant hit sailings.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict also resulted in the cancellation or modification of 60 sailings, which included all voyages with calls to ports in Russia.

However, the result is an improvement on the same quarter in 2021, when it racked up losses of $1.4 billion. Revenue also increased to $521.9 million, compared to $3.1 million in 2021, as cruise voyages restarted.

Total cruise operating expense increased 266.1 percent in the 2022 first quarter, compared to 2021, due to the resumption of sailings but also higher payroll, fuel, and “direct variable costs of fully operating ships.” Inflation also affected food, fuel and logistics costs.

While as of May 7 its entire fleet was back up and running, it was operating at just 48 percent capacity in the first three months of 2022.

“Last week we reached the biggest milestone yet in our Great Cruise Comeback as Norwegian Spirit, the last ship in our fleet to resume sailing, welcomed guests on board in Papeete, Tahiti,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO. “The herculean effort to restart our fleet would not have been possible without the incredible fortitude of the entire Norwegian team and the unwavering support of our key partners and stakeholders around the world.”

Looking ahead, its advance ticket sales balance increased $418 million in the quarter to $2.2 billion as of March 31, 2022. This includes $0.6 billion of future cruise credits, or 27 percent of the total deposit balance.

Gross advance ticket sales were $1.1 billion during the quarter, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

The cruise line has removed all calls to ports in Russia from its itineraries in 2023.

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