Skift Travel News Blog

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


IDEAS: Icon of the Seas Features the World’s Largest Kinetic Art Installation

5 months ago

Guests on Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas will now have the opportunity to see the world’s largest kinetic art installation.

Credit: Breakfast

Measuring 14 meters tall and 15.3 meters wide, ‘The Pearl’ was designed by Brooklyn-based new media artist Breakfast, and is composed of almost 3,000 tiles that have been designed to replicate natural phenomena such as waves, breezes and even shooting stars.

You can take a look at The Pearl in action in the video below:

The installation utilizes real-time tidal and wind data from the Caribbean, which is then sent to a computer that replicates the conditions through the tiles. 

Credit: Breakfast

According to the Breakfast website, the installation will ‘continuously transform, reflecting the current environmental conditions in an ever-evolving display of calmness or intensity.’

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.


IDEAS: Destination Canada Launches New Winter Pickleball Spa

5 months ago

Destination Canada has launched the the DinkDunk Pickleball Spa, the world’s first pop-up winter pickleball spa.

Canada's DinkDunk Pickleball Spa – the world’s first winter Pickleball Spa.
Credit: Destination Canada

The experience will give visitors the opportunity to take part in a game of America’s fastest growing sport, followed by a cold plunge inspired by the latest wellness trend taking hold of the internet.

A reservation at the experience will also include access to the spa amenities on-site, including massages, a sauna, a hot tub, fire pits and a selection of snacks. 

“We’re pretty excited to introduce the DinkDunk Pickleball Spa, a place where cool dinks meet cold dunks all set in a classic Canadian winter wonderland. We welcome pickleball pros, newbies, and anyone looking to try something new to visit Canada this season,” said Gloria Loree, Chief marketing officer at Destination Canada in a release.

The DinkDunk Pickleball Spa will be open to the public for one week only from March 16, 2024.

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

GetYourGuide Appoints New Chief People Officer

5 months ago

Experience marketplace GetYourGuide has appointed Genevieve Vancutsem-Zednik as its chief people officer.

Vancutsem-Zednik’s role will become effective in March. She will oversee the talent management and culture of the company, headquartered in Berlin, with 800 employees across its 17 offices worldwide.

Johannes Reck, GetYourGuide co-founder and CEO, said the appointment is well-suited to the company’s subsequent “growth and investment plans for 2024,” as it focuses on its presence in the Americas.

Vancutsem-Zednik has two decades of human resources leadership and most recently served as the chief people officer for Europe and Asia at global e-commerce provider Wayfair.

“As the company matures into its next phase, I look forward to meeting, learning from, and working with the team to further build on a culture of growth and collaboration,” said Vancutsem-Zednik.


IDEAS: Foster + Partners Reveal Concept Art for Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2025 Model Village

7 months ago

Foster + Partners has released concept images of its design for the pavilion for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at Expo 2025, taking place in Osaka, Japan.

Credit: Foster + Partners

The pavilion will be located on the Yumeshima waterfront, and has been designed to create a ‘spatial experience that echoes the exploration of Saudi Arabian towns and cities,’ according to a release from Foster + Partners.

The pavilion has taken inspiration from the organic textures and shapes of traditional Saudi villages, and will be built around a central courtyard – called the ‘Saudi Courtyard’ – which will provide a space for quiet reflection during the day whilst transforming into a venue for performances and events at night. 

Credit: Foster + Partners

From the courtyard, visitors will be able to explore a series of meandering ‘streets’ that will provide entry to a number of immersive spaces.

Credit: Foster + Partners

The pavilion, which will have the ability to be ‘deconstructed and reassembled, or completely reconfigured, to meet different requirements in a future location,’ will also be made from low carbon materials, and feature a host of sustainable features.

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

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

7 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.”

Tour Operators

TUI Teams Up With National Geographic to Expand Small-Group Day Tours

7 months ago

European tour operator TUI’s tours and activities division, TUI Musement, has expanded its collaboration with National Geographic Expeditions, launching 40 new NatGeo Day Tours. 

Previously only available as part of a cruise itinerary package, travelers can now independently book a mix of one-day and half-day itineraries. According to a partnership update released by TUI, these NatGeo tours specialize in beach and city experiences in destinations like Barcelona, Cancun, Crete, Paphos, New York, Naples, and Tenerife.

The tours, led by National Geographic-trained guides, are conducted in small groups of about 8 to 15 people and follow the TUI groups’ Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria, it said.

NatGeo tours include exploring Miró’s diverse artworks and creations in Barcelona, Spain, guided by architectural and art restoration specialists in the Homage to Miró experience. Another example is embarking on coral reef conservation with marine biologists and oceanographers in Cancun, Mexicoas part of the National Geographic Pristine Seas project in the Unveiling the Importance of Reef Restoration tour.      

An exclusive and educational sailing and snorkeling NatGeo tour to identify bleached corals and understand reef restoration and sustainable marine practices. Source: TUI Musement.

Peter Ulwahn, CEO of TUI Musement, previously shared TUI’s tours and activities strategy as a key growth sector with Skift. He noted that city destination experiences offered as shore excursions notably increased along with the group’s cruise sector revival, seeing a 69% year-on-year growth for TUI’s cruise products between April and June this year, compared to the same period in 2022.

The booking of TUI Collections in city destinations has seen a 90% increase year-on-year. From October 2022 to September 2023, TUI Musement facilitated over 1 million direct bookings, added Ulwahn.

“National Geographic Day Tours are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These are carefully crafted tours that tell stories of their destinations, honoring the National Geographic legacy and providing top quality, authentic, local experiences,” said Ulwahn.


Thailand’s ‘Meaningful Relationship’ Campaign Romanticizes Tourism

7 months ago

The Tourism Authority of Thailand unveiled a new marketing campaign “Meaningful Relationship” at the World Travel Market event in London on Monday.

The heart of the campaign is to encourage tourists to create more than just travel memories, it’s about fostering connections with the people, communities, nature and Thailand itself.

In tune with evolving travel trends, Thailand recognizes the modern traveler’s inclination towards prioritizing experiences over ticking off bucket-list destinations.

The “Meaningful Relationship” campaign seeks to tap into this shift, inspiring travelers to form connections that transcend the ordinary and ultimately foster a bond with oneself.

The Film

The advertising film features tourists from Korea, France, and Portugal, showcasing the attractions of Kanchanaburi, Chumphon, Nakhon Phanom, and the vibrant metropolis of Bangkok.

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, shared the campaign’s vision, stating, “The new ‘Meaningful Relationship’ marketing communication concept is designed to encourage travelers to engage in a meaningful connection, whether it is with themselves, the local people, the community, nature, or even with Thailand. When travelers form a relationship with the people they meet and the place they visit, they will have an opportunity to create lifelong friends, cherished recollections, and enjoyable moments.”

Moreover, December will also witness the launch of the “Thailand Always Cares” campaign, emphasizing Thailand’s commitment to ensuring a memorable experience for tourists.

Latest Tourism Figures from Thailand

Thailand’s ambitious goal is to attract 25-30 million tourists and generate THB 1.5 trillion ($43 billion) in revenue by the end of this year.

According to the latest available data, in the first 10 months of 2023 (January 1-October 31), Thailand recorded over 21.6 million arrivals and generated over THB 927 billion ($26 billion) in tourism revenue. The top five source markets being Malaysia, China, South Korea, India and Russia. 

The 2024 target is set at total revenue of THB 3 trillion ($84 billion) with THB 1.92 trillion ($54 billion) coming from the international market.

After granting visa free entry to Chinese tourists from September onwards, Thailand announced last week that it would grant visa-free entry to citizens from India and Taiwan from November 10 till May 2024.

Travel Agents

Millennials and Gen Z Prioritizing Mental Health and Travel: Survey

8 months ago

It’s the season for holiday surveys, with sentiment for exploration and unique experiences abounding.

“Experiences over gifts” continues as a trend in the latest Amex travel spending survey of U.S. travelers and their choices for the upcoming end-of-year holidays that largely involves classic winter adventures and quality time with loved ones.

72% of Millennial and Gen-Z respondents surveyed said they would rather spend money on a trip to go away with friends or family for the holidays instead of gifts, with snowboarding or ski vacations topping the list. But what’s particularly interesting in this year’s analysis is that more than half of Millennial and Gen-Z respondents said they didn’t travel enough this summer. Wellness and mental health were amongst the top priorities for this group when it came to goal setting for the year ahead.

Amex said it conducted its survey between September 15 – 18 among a sample of 4,017 adults, including 1,824 Gen Z and Millennials. Respondents have a household income of at least $50k+ equivalent and travel by air at least once a year.

Tour Operators

Consumer Preference for Experiential Gifts Peaks – Survey

8 months ago

A new survey by tours and activities online marketplace GetYourGuide showed American consumers want gifts that allow them to travel and experience the world more. 

92% of participants said they prefer receiving experiences over physical gifts, up from 77% last year. The survey, now in its third year, showed marked growth in the desire for experiential gifts, from an initial 62% in 2021. 

The holiday sentiment trend correlates with a 63% increase in total bookings between January and October 2023, compared to the same period last year, said GetYourGuide. Price remains a top concern for 56% of Americans, despite being down 7 points from last year.

Regarding the type of experiences, travel topped the list, especially among Millennials, with 51% preferring a trip as their ideal gift. Added preferences included:

  • Concert or show (40%),
  • Outdoor activity such as skiing or hiking (30%)
  • Museum visit (27%)

Food remains a top category for experiential bookings, chosen by 56% of Americans, with a further 33% inspired by local cuisine featured in shows or articles. Pop culture significantly influences travel choices, with 81% citing it as a reason to travel, and 36% have been motivated to travel to a location featured in a TV show or movie.

GetYourGuide said the survey, weighted by Wakefield Research, was conducted among 1,000 Americans aged 16-56, from 5 to 10 September.

Tour Operators

ToursByLocals Appoints Lisa Chen as New CEO

8 months ago

ToursByLocals has appointed Lisa Chen as its new CEO. The leadership change comes as co-founder and former CEO Paul Melhus steps into the role of Executive Chairman of the Board.

Chen initially joined the company in February 2023 as president and brings extensive experience from her previous executive roles at Expedia and Disney.

With 135 core employees, over and above the guides who list on the platform from across 190 countries, the Canadian-based ToursByLocals hit its 2 million customers milestone in May 2023.

Tritium Partners, investors in the company’s $33 million Series A raise just before the pandemic, said it was confident in Chen’s experience to head up the business as a two-sided marketplace.