Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tour Operators

London Bans Sphere Venue. MSG Looking to Build in New Location

3 months ago

Sphere Entertainment Company, sister company to Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation MSG, is looking for a new location for its second Sphere venue after its London-based plans were blocked by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan. 

Khan rejected the Sphere project, similar to Las Vegas’ $2.3 billion Sphere, despite the development’s potential for significant foreign investment in the UK.

“While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those,” a Sphere Entertainment spokesperson told Skift.

Planned for the edge of East London’s Olympic Park in Stratford, Khan turned down the venue due to concerns about light pollution, increased electricity usage, and a need for more sustainable green energy solutions. The project also posed potential risks to heritage sites in the Stratford area.  

MSG’s executive chairman and chief executive, James Dolan, said in an interview with The Standard that the company had no intention to appeal. Dolan called the move “political” after a five-year process with the London Legacy Development Corporation, thousands of hours of consultation with community forums, and 100 changes to the proposed venue’s plans.

Dolan expected to sell the site pegged for the £1.5 billion ($1.87 billion) MSG Sphere arena

He questioned why London “wouldn’t want the best show on earth?”, citing U2’s extended residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas. 

“Everybody comes out of that show saying it’s the best thing they have ever seen. You should talk to Bono. He is going to be disappointed it’s not in London. Bono sees the Sphere in Vegas as an art installation. He tells me all the time. I also think he might like one in Dublin.”

Tourism

Japan to Reopen to Visa-Free Independent Tourists From October 11

1 year ago

It’s official — Japan has finally announced that it would allow visa-free entry to independent tourists, removing the daily cap on arrivals from October 11 onwards, after almost two-and-a-half years of stringent restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the announcement on Thursday in New York while attending the UN General Assembly.

Inbound arrivals would need to be vaccinated three times or would have to submit a pre-arrival negative result for a Covid-19 test, according to Kyodo News.

Before the pandemic, Japan allowed visa-free entry for short-term visitors from 68 countries, including the U.S.

To encourage domestic tourism, the Japanese government will also be bringing back the nationwide travel discount program that had been discontinued after the rise in Covid cases.

Dubbing the step an effort to support the tourism, entertainment and industries that have been the worst-affected during the pandemic, Kishida hoped news of the full reopening would encourage more people to be a part of the program.

While Japan had been easing restrictions in a phased manner even since it reopened to foreign tourists in June, the government still required tourists to apply for a short-term visa enter the country as part of approved package tours through a recognized travel agency.