Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tourism

Palestine’s Tourism Executive Has a Message for Tourists

4 months ago

A Palestinian delegation was at ITB Asia tourism trade show in Singapore, despite the war and humanitarian crisis at home.

“Palestine is a tourism destination and a political state with a significant historical background,” said Majed Ishaq, director general of marketing for Palestinian ministry of tourism. “Come to our country through Palestinian tour operators. Spend money in Palestine and help to contribute towards our economy.”

Ishaq told Skift that the ministry had previously decided to attend the trade show and didn’t want to back out. “We had already booked a space and paid for the construction of the stand, making it impossible to cancel our participation.”

Ishaq said many tour operators from Southeast Asia work with Israeli tour operators to visit Palestinian areas and he also wanted to establish direct collaborations with these operators.

Ishaq expressed hope for a peaceful resolution and a gradual return to normalcy. Since the war between Israel and Hamas began earlier this month, travel to the region has shut down, with most major airlines suspending service.

Tourism

U.S. State Department Cautions Americans About Travel Worldwide Amid Unrest

5 months ago

The U.S. Department of State issued a “worldwide caution” to all Americans traveling abroad on Thursday. It urged them to stay alert due to heightened tensions in various locations, potential terrorist attacks and violent actions against U.S. citizens. The caution is in response to the ongoing the war between Israel and Hamas.

Americans traveling abroad were advised to stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, enroll in the Smart Travel Enrollment Program to stay updated and follow the State Department on Facebook and Twitter.

Full Coverage: U.S. Travel Caution FAQ – What the State Department Advice Means for Travelers

On Tuesday, the U.S. advised Americans to avoid travel all to Lebanon. On October 14, the U.S. advised Americans to reconsider travel to Israel due to terrorism and civil unrest.

The U.S. has four advisory levels for countries based on how safe and secure they are for U.S. travelers:

  • Level 4: Do Not Travel. U.S. travelers should not travel there because it’s very dangerous. Lebanon is now under this level.
  • Level 3: Reconsider Travel. U.S. Travelers should avoid traveling to this area due to safety and security risks. Israel is now under this level.
  • Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution. American traveling to this area should be aware of heightened risks.
  • Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions. This is the lowest level in terms of safety and security risks to U.S. travelers.  

The U.S. government is facilitating charter flight transportation for U.S. on a rolling basis at Ben Gurion International Airport through at least Sunday, October 22.

Tourism

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

5 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.

Airlines

Saudi Arabia to Slash Airport Fees to Compete With Rival Hubs

2 years ago

After offering financial incentives to carriers to fly “unprofitable” routes, Saudi Arabia is now luring airlines by cutting airport charges by as much as 35 percent in its bid to compete with the world’s biggest airline hubs, most of which happen to be in the Middle East region.

Airport charges at three major airports — Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam — would be reduced by anywhere between 10 percent and 35 percent, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said. The decreased airport charges would be coming into force later this year.

To maximize growth, airports in the kingdom would be further allowed to reduce charges below the announced caps, the civil aviation authority announced at the Farnborough Air Show. 

In its pivot from oil to diversify into other sectors, Saudi Arabia is looking at tourism in a big way to bolster the country’s economy and then there’s the ambitious goal to attract 100 million tourists by 2030.

This development comes days after Saudi’s civil aviation authority also announced the decision to open the nation’s airspace to all commercial carriers that meet the country’s civil aviation authority’s overflying requirements.

Under the decision, Saudi airspace is now open to flights operated through Israel and by Israeli carriers, a decision which complements Saudi’s efforts to consolidate its position as a global hub. 

US President Joe Biden called the decision “the first tangible step in the path of what I hope will eventually be a broader normalization of relations.” 

Tour Operators

Cyber Attack Against Tour Operator Exposes 300,000 Profiles — Reports

2 years ago

The Israeli government has seized the computer servers of a tour operator after hackers obtained the personal information of 300,000 people.

According to local reports, the government’s Privacy Protection Authority division took action against Gol Tours Ltd after a cyber attack more than two weeks ago.

Gol Tours operates 20 travel booking websites, including hotel4u.co.il, booking-hotels.co.il and come2israel.com The leaked information includes telephone numbers, addresses, dates and locations of booked vacations, and medical information, the authority said in a statement according to the Times of Israel.

The authority said it contacted the owner of Gol Tours following the hack to address the security flaws, but it did not cooperate. “The required changes were not made,” the authority reportedly said.

The owners rejected the claims, another news website, Channel 12, reported.

Iranian hacker group Sharp Boys was behind the attack, according to local media.

Travel companies have a long history of being subject to ransomware attacks.

In 2020, corporate travel giant CWT paid $4.5 million in ransom to cyber hackers. Some 30,000 computer systems were infected and locked.

On Monday, Reuters reported that the Shanghai police may have been attacked, resulting in a potential data breach affecting one billion Chinese citizens.