Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tourism

Saudi Arabia’s New Visa Rules Could Open Up Travel for Millions of Visitors

1 month ago

Saudi Arabia is making it easier for millions of tourists to enter the Kingdom by streamlining and relaxing its visa options for residents from multiple countries, effective September 1.

Residents from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates —the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries— can now apply for electronic tourist visas (eVisas), according to the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia. 

Residents of the UK, US, and EU can now apply for a visa on arrival. In addition, holders of a v​​alid tourist or business visa to the UK, U.S. or the Schengen area countries will be able to apply for a visa on arrival, provided that the other visa has been used at least once to enter the issuing country. 

Furthermore, potential visitors who meet Saudi Arabia’s visa requirements no longer have to report to their country’s embassy before entering Saudi Arabia. 

“Through harnessing digital innovation and streamlining the traveller journey, Saudi Arabia is welcoming more and more visitors from all corners of the globe,” said Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb.

The new visa rules is another step the Kingdom is taking toward achieving its ambitious goal of becoming a top global leisure destination. The Saudi government intends to invest $1 trillion in the tourism sector over the next 10 years. 

“The facilitation of a tourist visa for millions of GCC residents and the visa on arrival extension supports our ambition to welcome 100 million visitors a year by 2030, to the world’s biggest new leisure tourism destination,” said Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahd Hamidaddin.

To achieve its ambitions, the Kingdom has been hard working to expanding its international air connectivity. Its goal is to increase the number of direct international flights from 99 to 250 and become a leading Middle Eastern aviation hub. To get there, Saudi Arabia has offered financial incentives to airlines, expanded existing airports, launched a new airline, invested millions and slashed airport fees.

Tourism

Europe Urgently Needs to Fill 1.2 Million Travel and Tourism Job Vacancies

2 months ago

The European Union’s travel and tourism sector recovery is at risk unless 1.2 million jobs are filled, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council and European Travel Commission.

Vacancies are likely to remain unfilled during the busy summer period, with travel agencies predicted to be the worst hit with a 30 percent shortfall of workers.

Airlines and hotels are likely to suffer one in five unfilled vacancies, representing 21 percent and 22 percent staff shortage respectively.

“Europe showed one of the strongest recoveries in 2021, ahead of the global average. However, current shortages of labor can delay this trend and put additional pressure on an already embattled sector,” said Julia Simpson, council president and CEO, in a statement.

In 2020, when the pandemic was at its peak, 1.7 million direct jobs were lost, they claimed. In 2021, when governments began to ease travel restrictions, the sector’s direct contribution to the European Union’s economy recovered by 30.4 percent and recovered 571,000 jobs.

This year, the council projects the sector’s recovery will continue to accelerate and almost reach pre-pandemic levels with an expected 32.9 percent increase in its direct contribution to the union’s economy.

The pair have identified six measures that governments and the private sector can implement to address the issue:

  1. Facilitate labour mobility within countries and across borders and strengthen collaboration at all levels, providing visas and work permits
  2. Enable flexible and remote working where feasible — particularly if travel restrictions still prevent workers from moving freely across borders
  3. Ensure decent work, provide social safety nets and highlight career growth opportunities — with work that is safe, fair, productive, and meaningful — to reinforce the attractiveness of the sector as a career choice and retain new talent
  4. Upskill and reskill talent and offer comprehensive training as well as create — to equip the workforce with new and improved skills
  5. Create and promote education and apprenticeships — with effective policies, and public-private collaboration, that support educational programs and apprentice-based training
  6. Adopt innovative technological and digital solutions to improve daily operations, as well as mobility and border security to ensure safe and seamless travel and an enhanced customer experience.

“Governments and the private sector need to come together to provide the best opportunities for people looking for the great career opportunities that the travel sector offers,” Simpson added.

Tourism

Weak Euro Means Dollar Will Go Further for Americans Vacationing in Europe

3 months ago

The value of the euro is plummeting and that means Americans vacationing in Europe will see their dollars going further, CNN reported.

Three tourists with a selfie stick at Rome’s Trevi Fountain
Three tourists with a selfie stick at Rome’s Trevi Fountain

The euro’s falling means the dollar and euro are almost at parity, and “the UK pound is also weak: It’s exchanging at $1.20,” the report said.

That means more expensive vacations for Europeans and British.

Even if the dollar is strong, though, compared with the euro and pound, hotel prices across Europe in May were soaring in some countries compared to May 2019 before the pandemic.

Average daily rates in May 2022 were up in Italy (23 percent), Ireland (21 percent), and Spain (17 percent) compared with the same period in 2019, according to STR Global.

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