Skift Travel News Blog

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


U.S.’s National Travel and Tourism Office Names Deputy Assistant Secretary

6 months ago

Alex Lasry has been sworn in as the new deputy assistant secretary for travel and tourism at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Lasry oversees the National Travel and Tourism Office, in the International Trade Administration’s industry and analysis division in the Commerce Department.

Lasry has begun to help lead the Biden-Harris Administration’s national travel and tourism strategy. The goals are to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. in attracting its fair share of inbound visitors and sustaining the country’s spot as a popular destination for foreign visitors. A key objective is to attract 90 million international visitors a year by 2027.

Previously, Lasry was senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. He also led Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s successful bid to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Short-Term Rentals

France Proposes Value Added Taxes on Airbnb Rentals

7 months ago

The French Senate has greenlit measures to apply value-added tax (VAT) to Airbnb and similar platforms, aiming to address perceived competition imbalances with the hotel sector. 

Under the existing system VAT is levied on furnished tourist accommodations based on specific services like breakfast, regular cleaning, and the provision of household linen. The proposed amendment contends that this is “distortion of competition” between holiday rental companies and hotels, which are already VAT-subject. 

Currently, Airbnb collects tourist tax predetermined by regions (usually 10%) and additional taxes depending on the departments. For instance, the Île-de-France region recently introduced an additional “Grand Paris” tax of 15%. 

Finance minister Bruno Le Mair had suggested increasing taxes on Airbnb rentals, in June this year, to align them with regular, non-tourist rentals. Currently, tourist rentals, including those through Airbnb, enjoy a special tax rebate in France. Le Maire emphasized the need for fairness in taxation and expressed concerns about excessive benefits and favorable tax treatment. 

Despite Senate approval, the government retains the right to reject the measure. The Senate previously endorsed a measure to regulate furnished tourist accommodations by reducing tax deductions in areas with rental pressure.


U.S. Tourism Data: International Travelers Fuel Recovery

8 months ago

International travel to the U.S. continues to make a post-pandemic recovery, according to new data on international air travelers released Monday by the U.S.’s National Travel and Tourism Office. International air travelers spent $18.9 billion in the U.S. in the second quarter, up 33% from the same period in 2022.

The data provided telling statistics. Below are some key facts about overseas travel, i.e., not from Mexico or Canada, in the second quarter:

  • On average, overseas travelers had an income of $95,311, stayed 19 days, and spent $1,933 on their trips.
  • Over 7.7 million travelers came to the U.S. from overseas markets. Europe was the top contributor at over 3.3 million.
  • About 61% of overseas travelers took their trips solo, while 20% took theirs with a spouse or partner, and 16% took theirs with family or relatives.
  • Vacation was the top reason at 53%, which was the same level in the second quarter of 2022.
  • More overseas travelers took trips to the U.S. for business in the second quarter at 18%, up from 14% last year.
Top Destinations for Overseas Visitors
New York

What about travelers from Canada and Mexico, you ask?

Over 720,000 air travelers came from Mexico to the U.S. On average, Mexican travelers spent $1,271 per trip. Below were their favorite destinations in the second quarter:

Top Destinations for Mexican Visitors

Over 2.6 million air travelers came from Canada. On average, Canadian travelers spent $1,164 per trip. Below were their favorite destinations in the second quarter:

Top Destinations for Canadian Visitors

A growing share of Canadian, Mexican and overseas travelers cited business travel as a top reason for taking a trip to the U.S. in the second quarter.


International Travel to U.S. Hit 84% of Pre-Pandemic Level in July

8 months ago

Nearly 6.5 million international travelers came to the U.S. in July, representing 84% of its pre-pandemic level, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s latest data release. Compared to July 2022, international travel to the U.S. is up 25%.

International travelers from overseas, i.e. not Mexico and Canada, totaled 3.1 million in July, up 21% from the same month last year. The United Kingdom, France and Germany were top overseas source countries for the U.S. in July.

Over 10.6 million Americans traveled abroad in July, which was up 17% from the same month in 2022 and 99% of its pre-pandemic level, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.

Europe was the largest outbound overseas destination for Americans traveling abroad in July, having welcomed 2.3 million Americans traveling abroad, up 13% from the same month last year.


U.S. to Allow Visa-Free Travel for Israeli Tourists

9 months ago

The U.S. has added Israel to the Visa Waiver Program, the U.S. Department of State announced Wednesday. Starting November 30, Israeli citizens and nationals will be to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business without first obtaining a visitor visa for up to 90 days. Israeli citizens and nationals will only need to complete Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

The U.S. Travel Association projects the U.S. will welcome an additional 200,000 Israelis per year, which will generate $800 million in direct travel spending.

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program includes France, UK, Spain and 38 other countries.


International Tourism Hit 84% of Pre-Pandemic Level

9 months ago

International tourism reached 84% of its pre-pandemic level between January and July 2023, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Around 700 million tourists traveled internationally.

The Middle East had the strongest international tourism demand among all regions, having exceeded 20% above its pre-pandemic level between January and July. 

Other regions have not exceeded their pre-pandemic level. Europe hit 91% thanks to strong intra-regional demand and travel from the U.S., according to UN WTO. Africa reached 92% and the Americas reached 87%.

Asia-Pacific was far behind other regions in its recovery, having reached 61%. Many destinations and source markets in the region like China weren’t open for travel until the end of 2022 or earlier this year. 

UNWTO expects pent-up demand and increased air connectivity in Asia-Pacific will bring international tourism to 80% to 95% of its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2023.

The challenging economic environment could slow the recovery. UNWTO pointed to persisting inflation and rising oil prices leading to higher transport and accommodation costs for tourists.


European Tourism Reached Decade High in First Half of 2023

9 months 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%.


Americans Traveling Abroad Rose 20% in June

9 months 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).


Brazil to Require Visas for American Tourists in 2024

10 months ago

Brazil will mandate visitors from the U.S., Australia and Canada obtain an e-visa prior to entering the country starting January 10, 2024, according to Embratur, Brazil tourism’s board.

The visa requirement was initially going to take effect on October 1 this year, but the government has postponed it to next year.

Since 2019, Brazil had waived its visa requirement for nationals from U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan . Nationals from those countries had been allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days with the possibility of extensions of up to 180 days. The visa waiver will last until January 10, according to Embratur.

Visas will be issued electronically. The Brazilian government is currently developing the procedure. Once done, the details for the process will be provided by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The policy reinstatement is a retaliation toward countries that have not waived their visa rules for Brazilian nationals. The Brazilian government has been pressing U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan to reciprocate and waive its visa requirements.

Brazil has only reached an agreement with Japan to have reciprocal exemption, which will take effect on September 30, 2023. Not only will Japanese tourists continue be allowed to Brazil without a visa, Brazilian tourists will be allowed to Japan visa-free.


Brand USA CEO Chris Thompson to Step Down

11 months ago

Chris Thompson will step down as president and CEO of Brand USA, effective May 31, 2024. Brand USA is the U.S. ‘s destination marketing organization. Brand USA’s board of directors will work with an executive search firm to find a successor.

Thompson is retiring after more than 30 years in the industry. He has served as president and CEO of Brand USA since 2012. Prior to joining Brand USA, he was president and CEO of Visit Florida.

“It has been an incredible privilege to serve as President and CEO of Brand USA,” said Thompson. “I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together, and I am confident that the organization will continue to thrive under new leadership.”