Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tourism

Nepal to Host First-Ever LGBTQ+ Tourism Conference in January

3 months ago

Nepal will be hosting its inaugural LGBTQ+ tourism conference next month with the goal of establishing the country as an inclusive and welcoming destination for sexual minorities.

Scheduled for January 18 in Kathmandu, the two-day conference follows a landmark decision last month, making the Himalayan nation the first in South Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

According to the latest data available from the Nepal Tourism Board, in the first 10 months of 2023, Nepal welcomed around 810,000 tourists. 

Tourism plays a crucial role in the Nepalese economy, serving as a significant source of foreign exchange and revenue. Approximately 6.7% of the country’s GDP is attributed to the contributions of the tourism industry.

The LGBTQ+ Travel Market

Prior to the pandemic, the global value of LGBTQ+ travelers was estimated at a staggering $218 billion. 

Sunil Babu Pant, Asia’s first openly gay former parliamentarian and a prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist, expressed Nepal’s standing as a champion for LGBTQ+ rights in South Asia and emphasized the nation’s readiness for LGBTQ+ tourism.

Pant highlighted the potential to attract visitors and create job opportunities, particularly for individuals facing challenges securing employment abroad due to their distinctive identity.

Pant emphasized the importance of tapping into markets like China and India, both having substantial LGBTQ+ populations that often encounter social, cultural, and political discrimination.

Role of Travel Companies

The LGBTQ+ travel research conducted by Booking.com, in June this year, had highlighted how travel companies play a crucial role as allies in creating inclusive environments and implementing inclusive policies for LGBTQ+ travelers.

Shedding light on both the progress made and the recent setbacks faced by these communities in terms of travel experiences, the research showcased how concerns about attitudes, discrimination, and violence towards LGBTQ+ individuals have had a significant impact on their choice of travel destinations.

Tourism

European Travelers Won’t Slash Trip Budgets in First Half of 2023: European Travel Commission

1 year ago

Despite rising household expenses, nearly 60 percent of European travelers won’t cut back on traveling or spending on trips in the next six months, according to a survey by the European Travel Commission.

The commission surveyed over 6,000 European travelers in December 2022 who took at least 2 overnight trips during the last three years.

Europeans are worried about their rising living expenses, but they are not cutting back their spending. Even as energy costs and basic necessities rise, travel is the only discretionary expense people are determined to keep, according to the European Travel Commission. About 59 percent plan to spend the same on travel as last year in the first half of 2023 (below).

Plans to SpendMoreSameLessNone
Traveling16%59%23%2%
Groceries21%58%19%1%
Personal Care8%49%32%11%
Leisure Activities9%47%40%5%
Energy & Fuel30%45%23%3%
Shopping8%44%44%5%
Source: European Travel Commission

Nearly 40 percent plan to spend 4 to 6 nights at a destination, up 6 percent from a year ago. Between 500 and 1,500 euros is the most common allocated budget.

It also seems higher airfares also won’t stop travelers from flying. Around 54 percent of travelers still plan to fly, up 10 percent for the same period last year. A Skift megatrend for 2023 is that airlines will have an easy time generating revenue from higher airfares. 

At destinations, however, travelers will reallocate their spending. Nearly 20 percent will reduce their shopping, 16 percent will book cheaper accommodation and 15 percent will pay for self-catering or less pricey restaurants, according to the European Travel Commission.

About 58 percent of European travelers plan to take multiple trips and 75 percent plan to take at least one trip before June 2023. In fact, 44 percent of European travelers have fully or partly booked their upcoming trip, a 7 percent year over year increase. 

In addition, Europeans are determined to cross borders for their trips in 2023. Visiting another country is the preferred choice of 63 percent of European travelers, up 13 percent from last year. Interest in domestic tourism dropped to 25 percent— its lowest level since August 2020.

About 72 percent of Europeans will travel for leisure, while 15 percent will visit friends or relatives, 7 percent will attend an event and 5 percent will take a business trip.

Airlines

Etihad CEO Poached by Saudi Arabia’s New Airline: Reports

1 year ago

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas has agreed to join RIA — Saudi Arabia’s newest airline, according to reports.

It had been earlier reported that RIA, the multi-billion-dollar international carrier, had approached Douglas for the top job. Douglas has apparently agreed and other senior Etihad executives may follow him, according to Arabian Business.

Global consulting firm Korn Ferry has been tasked with the job to find a replacement for Douglas, the publication added quoting sources.

The head hunting firm is said to be in preliminary talks with three senior aviation names for the top job at Etihad, even though employment offers haven’t yet been made, according to Bloomberg.   

Douglas has been leading Etihad since 2018. He had also served as the CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports Company and Abu Dhabi Ports Company, prior to which he was the chief operating officer and group chief executive designate of UK’s largest privately-owned construction company Laing O’Rourke.

Under Douglas’ leadership, Etihad had reported a record-breaking core operating profit of $296 million for the first half of 2022, despite fuel costs increasing by almost 60 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

“Etihad is emerging from the pandemic stronger than ever, with a world-class fleet, an unmatched customer proposition and sustainability woven into every fibre of our business,” Douglas had said while announcing the financial results.

As Saudi Arabia pivots from its oil-based economy, the tourism sector has been a strong focus for the country that was closed to tourists till 2019.

The introduction of tourist visas in September 2019, was followed by the introduction of electronic tourist visas this month for residents of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

With an ambitious goal to reach 100 million tourists per year by 2030, the kingdom has been hard working to expanding its international air connectivity. 

Riyadh-based RIA will be the second airline for the kingdom, national carrier Saudia operates from Jeddah. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has reportedly invested $30 billion to get the airline off the ground.