Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tourism

Sedona Tourism Finds Promotion Funding Path

4 months ago

The Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau has formed a business improvement district with nine local hotels to fund its tourism promotion efforts, Skift has learned.

Earlier this year, the tourism bureau severed its partnership with the City of Sedona because its local government wouldn’t allow it to spend lodging tax funds on tourism promotion. The Sedona City Council put the breaks on it in 2021 because residents were frustrated with overtourism.

Under Sedona’s business improvement district, member hotels collect assessment fees from guests. The collected funds must be put toward programs and activities that support its members.

By spring, the tourism bureau expects it will have raised enough funds to develop an “ambitious” summer advertising campaign, the bureau said. The founding members will have to approve it, and they will receive special promotion visibility. The founding hotels combined consist of 800 rooms.

Tourism

Middle East Exceeded Its Pre-Pandemic Tourism Level in Early 2023: UNWTO

10 months ago

The Middle East welcomed 15 percent more international tourists in the first three months of 2023 than it did for the same period in 2019, according to the UN World Tourism Organization’s latest data. 

Over 230 million people traveled internationally in the first quarter of 2023, more than double for the same period of 2022 and which is 80 percent of its pre-pandemic level, according to the UN World Tourism Organization.

Europe reached 90 percent of its pre-pandemic level in the quarter. That region’s recovery was driven by strong intra-region demand.  Africa was at 88 percent and the Americas were at about 85 percent. Asia Pacific was at 54 percent, but the UNWTO expects this will accelerate thanks to China’s reopening.

While the global tourism industry heads toward recovery, there are risks ahead. UNWTO experts pointed to the uncertainty around the global economy, high inflation, rising oil prices and the Russia-Ukraine war as factors that could impact the recovery.

UNWTO also revised its 2022 data and found that over 960 million tourists traveled last year, which was two-thirds of its prep-pandemic level.

In 2022, international visitor spending reached 64 percent of its pre-pandemic level.

Tourism

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.

Overtourism

Airbnb Data Says Flexible Search Tools Help Combat Overtourism

1 year ago

Airbnb said that the flexible search features it has rolled out since early 2021 have so far diverted bookings from destinations coping with overtourism and peak travel times, according to data it shared on Friday.

The short-term rental booking giant has increasingly offered search tools — see Skift’s earlier coverage: “Airbnb’s Next Big Change: Search” — in response to evidence that many people don’t have a destination or fixed dates in mind when they start researching trips.

Some of Airbnb’s new data points from its first whitepaper on “sustainable tourism” (embedded below).

  • “In 2019, the top 10 most visited cities on Airbnb in the European Union — including Paris, Barcelona, and Rome — accounted for 20 percent of all trips in Europe, whereas they account for just 14 percent of trips in 2022.”
  • “Guests using flexible search tools book less often in the 20 most popular destinations on Airbnb in Europe (-17.5 percent) and more often in less-visited communities ranked outside Airbnb’s top 400 destinations (+35.5 percent), when compared to guests booking via traditional search on Airbnb.”
  • “Guests booking via Airbnb’s flexible search tool—that provides an option to include a location without dates—are also more likely to book outside the top 10% most popular dates (-7.3 percent) and are more likely to book nights on weekdays (+5.7 percent).”
  • “Flexible search is also helping to redirect guests approximately 5 miles farther away from their initial intended location within cities, compared to traditional searchers on Airbnb … In Amsterdam, flexible bookers more often stay outside the city’s inner limits (+32.5 percent) compared to traditional bookers.”

As context: Airbnb’s search changes had two components.

People who don’t have a destination in mind can now be inspired by Airbnb’s new “Categories” category, which has been viewed more than 120 million times since August, according to company statements. This tool helps divert reservations away from Europe’s most saturated hotspots, according to Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer, when discussing the report at Web Summit in Lisbon on Thursday.

Travelers with flexible dates have been able to take advantage of Airbnb’s recently added feature that lets them say they’re really interested in traveling anywhere for a week and a week or a month anytime in the next year. The tool lets some travelers avoid peak time crushes in travel because of seasonality.

The report’s data points echos comments Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky made at Skift Global Forum in September.

“What we want to do now is we want to be more in the inspiration business,” Chesky said. “You come to Airbnb and we can point demand to where we have supply. … We can highlight what makes us unique and get into the top of the purchasing funnel, which is basically giving people ideas of where to travel based on what’s available.”

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (see full video)

Airbnb has been attempting to cope with the overtourism ever since 2018, when it created an “office of healthy tourism,” which at the time was the company’s term for proper tourism growth management. It began adding flexible search tools in early 2021, as Skift reported.

Skift coined the term overtourism to describe “a potential hazard to popular destinations worldwide, as the dynamic forces that power tourism often inflict unavoidable negative consequences if not managed well.”

See Airbnb’s sustainable tourism report, below:

Tourism

Efforts to Tame Overtourism Come Under Pressure

2 years ago

Covid gave Southeast Asia a break from overtourism. Now what?” That’s the question The Washington Post asked on Saturday.

Pandemic-related lockdowns and reduced tourism let many destinations take a break from heavy volumes of visitors. But now, many destinations are divided. Some want to preserve the benefits of lower tourist impact, such as wildlife recovery. Others want to discard many restrictions because they’re eager to max out the job-creating potential of their tourist landmarks and attractions.

Here are a few examples:

  • In Thailand, the ministry of natural resources and the environment has ordered the country’s 155 natural parks to shut down at least a month every year. The idea is to give nature a chance to heal from heavy visitor footfall and boat traffic. The decision came after the parks were closed for the first time in 2020.
  • In Indonesia, officials recently tried to limit visits to the ancient Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta to 15 at a time while also hiking prices for foreigners from $25 to $100 to pay for conservation. (The historic temple has nine stone tiers that support statues and relief panels of the Buddha.) Local opposition has since appeared, however, and the price hikes are now on pause.
  • Indonesia’s effort to raise prices on a heritage site and national park featuring Komodo Dragons has also stalled, Nikkei reported.
  • Before the pandemic, officials in the Philippines shuttered the island of Boracay for half a year and then reopened it with some restrictions. “But in April [of this year], Boracay exceeded its daily visitor cap multiple times,” the Post reported.

Overtourism is a term Skift came up with years before the pandemic. Overtourism continues to be a thorny challenge for the tourism industry during the recovery that Skift will continue to watch closely.

Covid gave Southeast Asia a break from overtourism. Now what?