Skift Travel News Blog

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


European Tourism Reached Decade High in First Half of 2023

6 days ago

In the first half of 2023, Europe experienced its highest number of tourist stays in the past decade, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency. Europe recorded 1.19 billion night stays between January and June 2023, up by 0.9% and 12.9% from the same period in 2019 and 2022, respectively.

International tourism gave Europe a strong boost in the first half of 2023, according to Eurostat. International tourist night stays rose 22.5% from last year to 545 million. Domestic tourist night stays rose 5.8%.

All EU states experienced overnight stay increases compared to 2022, with the exception of Hungary, which experienced a slight decrease of 0.3% The countries that saw the biggest growth were Cyprus at 39.3%, Malta at 30.5% and Slovakia at 28.7%.

Compared to their 2019 levels, about half of EU member states have not fully recovered, according to Eurostat. Latvia was down the most at 23.8%, Slovakia at 16%, Hungry at 12.2% and Lithuania at 11.7%.


Europe Adopts Sustainable Aviation Fuel Mandates From 2025

1 week 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

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.

Business Travel

Corporate Booking Platform CDS Groupe Acquires Germany’s Corporate Rates Club

2 weeks ago

CDS Groupe, a hotel booking platform for business travel, is expanding into the German market through an acquisition. 

The France-based company said this week that it has acquired Corporate Rates Club, the business travel segment of TourisMarketing Service GmbH. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Corporate Rates Club will continue to operate independently with its full staff,  CDS Groupe said. The CRC tool is available through a customized online booking portal or through integrating its hotel offerings into a third-party online booking engine. 

The deal is part of what CDS Groupe says is a plan for international growth.

The company in 2022 acquired Rydoo Travel, an online booking tool, from Marlin Equity. 

The combined company said it completes about €800 million annually in hotel bookings on behalf of its clients, which include corporations and business travel agents. The acquisitions have also allowed the buyer to expand its portfolio of contracts with hotels. 

The company now has 300 employees in France, Italy, Poland, Germany and Croatia.

CDS Groupe was founded in 2001 and is managed by founding shareholder Ziad Minkara.


Americans Traveling Abroad Rose 20% in June

2 weeks ago

Over 10 million Americans traveled abroad in June, a 20% rise from the same period last year, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s latest data. June’s volume was 99% of its 2019 pre-pandemic level.

The second largest overseas market — Mexico was number one — for Americans traveling abroad in June was Europe at 2.7 million, up 19.3% from last year. Europe accounted for 26% of American trips abroad in June.

The number of International travelers to the U.S. rose 24% to 2.6 million from June last year. Compared to the pre-pandemic period, June international volume was at 79% of its 2019 level. The largest overseas tourist markets for the U.S. were the UK (276,000), India (172,400) and Germany (132,000).


IDEAS: British Tycoon to Launch Electric Plane Fleet in the UK

4 weeks ago

British company Ecojet plans to launch electric planes in the UK, featuring plant-based foods and no single-use plastics.

Dale Vince, founder of British green energy company Ecotricity, recently announced Ecojet’s plans to retrofit aircraft with hydro-electric power, pending approval from the UK’s aviation regulatory body, the Civil Aviation Authority.

The world’s first electric (and vegan) airline. Credit: Ecotricity

If approved, the 19-seat and 70-seat planes will launch in 2024, but the retrofitting will not begin until 2025. The decision to retrofit was a purposeful one, as the company claims repurposing planes will save 90,000 tons of carbon per year and added that the planes’ only waste will be water, which can be released at lower atmosphere.

The planes will begin flying between Southampton and Edinburgh, with the goal of expanding into mainland Europe soon after.

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

Smartbox Group Acquires Nordic Experiences Platform Truestory

1 month ago

European-based experience gift platform Smartbox Group has acquired the Scandinavian experiences platform Truestory.

Lasse Kjær, founder of Truestory, announced the acquisition in a LinkedIn post, stating the Nordic-centred experiences platform, with some “1,000 live experiences from more than 600 hosts”, now had a “new owner who wants to invest in Truestory to redeem the long-term potential of the business.”

Skift reached out to Kjær for specific details on the sale, but he stated he was “unable to share the value of the acquisition right now.”

Truestory would continue to operate under the same brand as the site’s users know it, specifically strengthening Smartbox Group’s position in the Nordic countries of Norway and Sweden, René Drewsen, Cluster Director Nordic at Smartbox Group, said in a statement.

Founded in 2003, the Smartbox Group is present in nine European countries and claims it sells 7 million experience gifts worth an estimated $547 million annually. The company works with “40,000 European partners, distributing through 18,000 retail stores, supermarkets, websites, and online retailers.”


Hotel Chart of the Week: Europe’s Rising Room Rates Are Tolerated by Many Travelers

3 months ago

How are hotels doing post-pandemic? It all depends on the market and the type of hotel. In the U.S., average hotel rates nationwide have barely recovered to 2019 levels after accounting for inflation, but individual markets like New York City are performing better than before, while other individual markets, like San Francisco, are doing worse. But overall, it’s not price gouging.

In Europe, there’s a similar market-by-market dynamic at work. In the highest-demand markets for leisure travelers, especially Americans, hotels have been able to hike prices above inflation.

An article in Friday’s Financial Times had a compelling chart to make the point.

“Hotels in London, Rome, Madrid and Paris are enjoying a boom even when compared with the pre-pandemic era. Revenue per available room rose the most of the four cities in Rome, where it was 60 per cent higher in June than in the same month in 2019, according to hotel data provider STR.”

—Eri Sugiura and Robert Wright of the Financial Times
Read more at the FT's article: Can the post-pandemic travel boom endure?


Lufthansa Reaches $350 Million Deal for Italy’s ITA Airways: Report

4 months ago

Lufthansa finally has a deal. For ITA Airways that is, and according to reports.

The Frankfurt-based carrier will initially buy 40 percent of the state-owned Italian airline for $343-354 million (€320-330 million), according to a report by Italian daily Corriere Della Sera. Lufthansa would invest a further $537 million to raise its stake in ITA to up to 95 percent at a later date. A final agreement could be signed as soon as Thursday.

An ITA Airways Airbus A330neo
An ITA Airways Airbus A330-900. (ITA Airways)

The deal is the culmination of years of effort by Lufthansa to buy its way into the Italian market. The German carrier bid for a stake in ITA’s predecessor Alitalia as early as 2008, only to be out maneuvered by Air France-KLM. In the latest round of dealmaking, Lufthansa was counted out last year when a Certares-led consortium of Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines was selected as the preferred bidder. But that deal fell through and Lufthansa was back in the running by December; the group made an official offer in January. Air France-KLM has, meanwhile, shifted its interest to acquiring TAP Air Portugal.

Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr has described the group as the “natural home” for ITA. Italy is Lufthansa’s largest market outside of its home markets, which include Austria (Austrian Airlines), Germany (Lufthansa and Eurowings), and Switzerland (Swiss Air). In May, Spohr said ITA’s Rome hub could be an integral southern gateway to Africa and Latin America for the group.

Lufthansa and the Italian government will need to European Union antitrust sign off before any deal for ITA could close.


Wizz Air Launches Flight Subscription Program

5 months ago

Low-cost carrier Wizz Air has launched a flight subscription program, opting for the same platform that Alaska Airlines uses.

The European airline has partnered with Caravelo, a company that builds subscription platforms for airlines. They claim the program, called MultiPass, is a first for Europe.

It will initially be available for six months for the Italian and Polish markets. Passengers will be able to fly domestic Italy and international Poland routes, booking up until five days before departure.

For a fixed monthly fee, the subscribers can choose between one way or round-trip flights, and can also customize their plan with ancillaries.

Caravelo partnered with Alaska Airlines for its Flight Pass in February last year, while Frontier Airlines also recently launched its own, called GoWild!

Barcelona-based Caravelo also raised $3 million in funding in July last year. “In the past year, the industry has finally woken up to the power of subscriptions,” CEO Inaki Uriz said at the time.

For more on subscription models in travel, read Skift’s Megatrends from 2021.


Trainline Teams With David Hasselhoff in New Celeb-Focused Marketing

6 months ago

Hotel brands are well known for their marketing partnerships with influencers and celebrities, but now one rail booking platform is getting in on the act.

Trainline has decided to team up with legendary actor David Hasselhoff to launch its Chief Conductor Contest.

A grand prize includes a $5,000 travel stipend, a two-night stay in a luxury hotel, and $2,500 in Trainline vouchers to cover rail travel across Europe — in addition to signed merchandise.

The company thinks that with European travel booming, and the U.S. dollar remaining strong, now’s the time to get The Hoff (and his 326,000 Instagram followers) onboard. 

According to data by Trainline, 33 percent of Americans are looking to travel to Europe this summer and 42 percent would be excited to travel through Europe by train to take in the landscape. But even beyond trains as a desired mode of transportation, over half of Americans are somewhat or very likely to plan elements of their vacations based on where their favorite influencers/celebrities visit.

This is where Hasselhoff comes in.

Consumers will also have the opportunity to hear his train travel tips, tricks and itineraries, as well as get a sneak peek into some of the actor’s favorite destinations.

With lots of industry players competing to win bookings, Trainline is just the latest in a handful of travel companies employing celebrity partnerships to promote their brands.

Hilton, for example, collaborated with Paris Hilton on a 10-minute TikTok video. “It’s an experiment and a bit fun,” Chris Silcock, Hilton’s chief commercial officer, said at the Skift Future of Lodging Forum recently. “We’re trying to be more culturally relevant and in the stream. We’re approaching 40 million views of the video and it’s doing well.”




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