Skift Travel News Blog

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

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb’s New Chief Legal Officer Is A Former Biden Aide

6 months ago

Airbnb announced today that it has appointed former White House chief of staff and a prominent figure in Democratic circles Ron Klain as its chief legal officer. A close Biden aide, Klain will begin his role at the company starting January 1.

Last year, Airbnb appointed Jay Carney as the global head of policy and communications. Carney handled public relations for Amazon for seven years after serving as the White House press secretary for the Obama administration. 

Klain, known for his strategic thinking, operational expertise, and close ties to Washington, will report directly to Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky. 

“Ron is both a big-picture strategic thinker and a highly skilled operator, and I’m thrilled he’ll be a close advisor,” said Chesky in a statement. “People have described Ron as one of the smartest people they’ve ever met, but more than his intelligence, he’s known for his excellent judgment and his big heart. Ron is the perfect addition to our team.”

Klain served as White House Chief of Staff from January 2021 to February 2023.

Most previously, Klain was a litigation partner at O’Melveny & Myers. Klain told Axios that he heard about the opening at Airbnb, which was a client of the law firm. 

Klain is not new to representing tech businesses in litigation. He has also served as the chief legal officer at venture capital firm Revolution. 

Tourism

China and U.S. to Improve Tourism Ties, Says Chinese President Xi

6 months ago

The U.S. and China will improve air connectivity and streamline visa processing, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in public remarks on Wednesday. Xi made the remarks at a dinner hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and US-China Business Council. 

The dinner followed Xi’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco. 

“Today, President Biden and I reached an important consensus,” said Xi. “Our two countries will roll out more measures to facilitate travels and promote people-to-people exchanges, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism, and streamlining visa application procedures.”

Long visa wait times and weak air connectivity prevented the full resumption of Chinese tourism to the U.S. Without Chinese tourism, the U.S. can’t fully recover from the pandemic, Brand USA CEO and President Chris Thompson has said.

Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists were the U.S.’s highest spenders. “Before the pandemic, 2.6 million visitors a year spent about $15 billion. There wasn’t another market anywhere close,” said U.S. Travel Association CEO and President Geoff Freeman at the Skift Global Forum. “This is a market that in many senses will make or break what we do on the international side.”

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.” 

Tourism

U.S. Adds New Travel Warning Category to 6 Countries Where Citizens at Greater Risk of Being Detained

2 years ago

Tourists and business travelers take note, because the U.S. government has added a new destination risk category.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order called “Bolstering Efforts to Bring Hostages and Wrongfully Detained U.S. Nationals Home.” And as part of that move, it will introduce a new risk indicator — “D” for wrongful detention — to the State Department’s travel advisories.

These advisories exist for all countries around the world to warn Americans of risks they may face in traveling to particular destinations.

To start with, six countries will be issued the latest “D” category, which is aimed at deterring and punishing wrongful detention of U.S. citizens abroad by authorizing government agencies to impose sanctions and other measures.

They are Myanmar, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela, which are all deemed to be places where there is elevated risk of wrongful detention.

The indicator joins the existing “K” for kidnapping indicator that covers the risk of kidnapping and hostage taking by non-state actors as well as a range of other existing risk indicators.

“We are eager to share how the Biden-Harris administration is expanding the toolkit that the U.S. government uses to help bring home American hostages and wrongful detainees” said a senior administration official.

Airlines

Biden Nominates TSA Chief David Pekoske for Another Term

2 years ago

U.S. President Joe Biden is nominating David Pekoske to serve another term as head of the Transportation Security Administration.

He leads a workforce of 60,000 employees and is responsible for security operations at 440 airports across the country.

Pekoske was first nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2017.

The TSA was created by Congress in November 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks. It is responsible for security operations at 430 U.S. airports. According to reports, the White House plans to boost the number of TSA officers by 2,540 as it forecasts a faster return to pre-Covid U.S. air travel levels.