Skift Travel News Blog

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


U.S. Travel Launches Website Spotlighting Visa Delay Damage

1 year ago

The U.S. Travel Association has launched a website to highlight the negative impact of long visitor visa interview wait times—which now exceed an average of 400 days—is having on global travelers and U.S. businesses. Called, the website lists stories of those affected, loss in industry spending, visitor wait times, impacted markets and a policy fact sheet. 

Users can also submit their own story as a traveler or a business owner. “There are no better voices to tell the personal toll of America’s de facto border closure than the people, families and American businesses directly impacted by egregious visa wait times,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman. 

The U.S. is projected to lose nearly $7 billion in travel spending in 2023 and not see a full recovery in international inbound travel until 2025, according to U.S. Travel.

The website also calls on the Biden administration to take action and provides policy recommendations. “The Biden administration must focus on what is in its control and take immediate action to lower wait times, “said Freeman. “We simply cannot afford to give travelers any reason to avoid visiting the United States.”

U.S. Travel will launch custom versions of the website in both English and Portuguese next week.


U.S. International Inbound Travel Won’t Fully Recover Until 2025

1 year ago

International inbound travel to the U.S. is projected to be at 63 percent and 75 percent of its pre-pandemic volume in 2022 and 2023, respectively, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s biannual forecast. At this rate, international travel won’t reach pre-pandemic levels until 2025.

The projected slump is worse than USTA’s June forecast of international travel reaching 67 percent of pre-pandemic 2019 levels and 82 percent in 2023, respectively, reflecting the loss of $8 million more visitors and $28 billion in spending over those two years.

The slow recovery is due to the ongoing delays at U.S. embassies to process visitor visas. First-time visitor visa applicants have to wait over average of 400 days in the top 10 source markets for travel to the United States, and markets such as Brazil, India and Mexico have experienced worsened wait times in recent months, according to the U.S. Travel Association.


Colorado Communities Passed Ballot Measures to Shift Tourism Marketing Dollars

1 year ago

Multiple Colorado counties and towns approved ballot measures on November 8 to shift lodging tax revenue—a key funding source for tourism promotion— toward local community initiatives. The passage of the measures underscore the Skift megatrend that communities are no longer spectators in travel.

Ballot measures to increase lodging taxes to fund affordable housing and other community initiatives were passed in Estes Park, Summit County, Glenwood Springs, Dillon, Eagle County, Lyons, Nederland and other municipalities. The measures didn’t pass in the municipalities of Grand Junction, Centennial and Hudson

Many of the measures were passed with overwhelming majority support. In Estes Park, 63 percent of voters approved an additional 3.5 percent lodging tax extension on the local marketing district. 

Some local DMOs supported the ballot measures and their approval. “With the support of our board of directors and the community, we were able to not only support opening this funding avenue to support essential community needs, but to also work diligently to ensure that Visit Estes Park can continue to provide important marketing and management services to our tourism partners and guests by protecting our existing budget,” said Visit Estes Park CEO Kara Franker. 

The ballot measures came into play this year thanks to a bill signed by Colorado Governor that allowed municipalities to let voters decide how to allocate up to 90 percent of lodging tax funds to areas outside of tourism promotion.


New Zealand Considers Official Name Change

2 years ago

New Zealand may be getting an official name change in our lifetime. The New Zealand Parliament might change the country’s name to Aotearoa, which is Māori for “long white cloud,” and restore cities and towns to their original Māori names.

Shedding the island’s colonial names could sustainably boost its tourism industry. When historically marginalized communities reclaim leadership of their lands, destinations often realize substantial benefits, which can include new marketing opportunities, improved destination management, higher visitor numbers and a better experience for visitors and residents. 

The discussion to change the country’s names kicked off when the Māori Party launched a petition to officially rename the country Aotearoa last year. The petition also called on Parliament to begin a collaborative process to officially restore the original Māori names for all towns, cities and places across the country by 2026.

The petition has collected more than 70,000 signatures and will be considered by a parliamentary committee that could recommend a vote in Parliament, put it to a nationwide referendum or not take action.

A significant share of the public desires some change to the country’s name. Over 40 percent said they want to replace it with Aotearoa or include Aotearoa in the official name, while nearly 60 percent want to keep the name, according to a 2021 1News Colmar Brunton poll.

Ground Transport

U.S. Travel Industry Calls for Clean Energy Tax Incentives

2 years ago

More than 100 travel industry stakeholders on Tuesday signed a letter to Congress urging them to prioritize passing clean energy tax credits and deductions. The letter was spearheaded by the U.S. Travel Association.

The letter urged the passage of tax incentives to expand sustainable aviation fuel production, electric vehicle charging station installations, clean energy technologies and energy efficiency upgrades to commercial buildings. It also called for strong federal investments to protect and restore natural attractions.

“Travel businesses and organizations of all sizes—from airlines and hotels to airports and attractions—are already taking steps to reduce waste, lower emissions, protect natural environments, and switch to more sustainable sourcing,” the letter said. “However, to accelerate and enable greater investment in this area, we need greater support at the federal level.”

On Tuesday, the USTA also launched the Sustainable Travel Coalition, which will advise USTA on sustainability issues and concerns within member organizations and destinations. As of the launch, the coalition has nearly 60 organizations,