Skift Travel News Blog

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


Climate Change Not a Top Focus for U.S. Tourism Marketers: Report

7 months ago

Only 8% of U.S. tourism boards strongly prioritize addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero. In contrast, 62% of European tourism boards and 29% of Canadian tourism boards have made it a top priority. That’s according to Sojern’s “State of Destination Marketing 2024.”

The report is based on a survey of over 300 destination marketers by the Digital Tourism Think Tank, commissioned by travel marketing platform Sojern, and endorsed by Brand USA, Destination Canada and the European Travel Commission.

Compared to other regions, regenerative tourism is not a strong strategic focus for U.S. tourism boards. Only 28% in the U.S. have made it a focus, while over 40% of Canadian and European tourism boards have made it one.

Tourism boards differ regionally when it comes to diversity and inclusion. In the U.S. and Canada, over half of tourism boards prioritize celebrating racial and ethnic diversity in their marketing.  In Europe, however, 23% do so.

In addition, Canadian tourism boards stood out for their representation of Indigenous Peoples at 71%, according to the report.

When it comes to reaching travelers with disabilities, over 40% of American and European tourism boards put it as a top priority in their marketing. About 12% of Canadian tourism boards, on the other hand, do so.

Below are updates based on comments from Sojern. The headline was also updated.

  • The survey’s original question was, “How are the following prioritized in your strategy?” U.S. tourism boards still prioritize climate change and net zero gas emissions commitments but not above other focuses like biodiversity and natural environment, diversity, equity and inclusion, and so on.
  • The question above was intended to gauge how tourism boards are focused on sustainability overall, not just climate change.
  • Europe has government policies on sustainability that the U.S. does not. That will explain some regional differences.
  • Tourism board priorities are set by their funding partners. In certain destinations, climate change will logically be less of a priority than other aspects of sustainability.


IDEAS: Anantara Hotels and Resorts Rolls Out ‘Dollar for Deeds’ Program Globally

9 months ago

Anantara Hotels and Resorts has rolled out its ‘Dollar for Deeds’ program at its properties globally, having originally launched the initiative at select hotels in Thailand almost ten years ago.

The ‘Dollar for Deeds‘ program provides travellers with the opportunity to give back to the local community of a property by pledging a donation to a range of causes that support environmental and community initiatives.

Guests will be able to donate one dollar per night of their stay, with the hotel matching their contribution dollar for dollar and passing the donation on to partners internationally.

One of these initiatives is the IUCN Turtle Beach Protection Programme in Sri-Lanka, for which you can take a look at the video below:

Other initiatives under the program include raising funds for The Princess Sirindhorn Craniofacial Centre at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok, The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, coral reef protection in the Maldives and providing vocational training for disabled children in Vietnam and Indonesia.

“Sustainability has long been a key pillar of our operating philosophy and, increasingly, it is not only a global need but also a requirement from both our investors and guests. By making ‘Dollar for Deeds’ accessible globally, we can support more worthy causes around the world while encouraging individual sustainability journeys and changing the definition of purposeful travel in our neighbouring communities and ecosystems.  For the expansion I am particularly proud of the way our properties outside Thailand have embraced the spirit of the programme and chosen amazing local causes to support,” said John Roberts, group director of sustainability & conservation for Minor Hotels, Anantara’s parent company,

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Japan Airlines to Encourage Travelers to Rent Clothes in Destination and Minimize Luggage

12 months ago

Japan Airlines (JAL) and Sumitomo Corporation are set to trial ‘Any Wear, Anywhere’, a new clothes sharing service.

The service has been designed to offer travelers the convenience of carrying minimal luggage by providing the opportunity to rent clothing at their destination, whilst in turn promoting more environmentally sustainable travel methods.

Credit: Japan Airlines

Under the ‘Any Wear, Anywhere’ service, Japan Airlines aims to create an environment where ‘travelers can use local options for all aspects of their clothing, food, and accommodation, transforming travel and business trips into more sustainable experiences.’

​Video courtesy of Any Wear, Anywhere

The service will be open to all foreign travelers and business travelers flying on Japan Airlines flights and will run until 31 August, 2024.

Sumitomo Corporation will be providing the service, and all clothing items available under the scheme will be sourced from excess apparel stock and pre-owned clothing.

Japan Airlines will monitor any changes in passengers’ checked-in baggage weight and verify any reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from reduced airplane weight due to use of the Service.

You can take a look here.

At Skift, we are looking to unearth the most creative and forward-thinking innovations in travel through our Skift Ideas Franchise, which includes the Skift IDEA Awards, Skift Editorial Hub and the Skift Ideas Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Ground Transport

IDEAS: The Hoxton to Reward Guests Who Travel More Sustainably

12 months ago

The Hoxton Hotel has launched ‘The Good Rate’, a new initiative designed to reward guests who choose to travel more sustainably whilst staying at its hotels. 

As the world continues to become more conscious of the environmental impact of travel, companies are encouraging travelers to undertake more sustainable travel practices. Under the new initiative, Hoxton will take £20/€20/$20 off the room rate at each location booked as part of a multi-Hox trip when navigated by rail.

The Good Rate forms part of a wider sustainability and social responsibility programme being undertaken by the group known as ‘The Good Stuff’, which includes eliminating single-use plastics by 2025, reducing food waste and providing support to neighborhood projects, charities, and shelters. 

To take advantage of The Good Rate, guests simply need to book their stay directly on the website and present a relevant train ticket at check-in.

At Skift, we are looking to unearth the most creative and forward-thinking innovations in travel through our Skift Ideas Franchise, which includes the Skift IDEA Awards, Skift Editorial Hub and the Skift Ideas Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Tourism Cares Launches Meaningful Travel Map

12 months ago

Tourism Cares, a non-profit dedicated to advancing sustainable tourism has unveiled its new Meaningful Travel Map.

The interactive map, which has been designed to connect travel professionals with ‘sustainable, community-led enterprises, products, services, accommodations and tours that can be added to itineraries,’ has been launched to commemorate the organization’s 20-year anniversary.

You can view the interactive map here, and find out more about the work Tourism Cares does in the video below:

Presently, the Meaningful Travel Map features over 150 verified sustainable experiences in various destinations including the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Jordan.

“At Tourism Cares, we consider ourselves a pioneer in the meaningful travel movement – driving the industry to conduct business in a way that directly benefits host communities, protects cultural and environmental assets, and engages guests in a deeper, more responsible way,” said Greg Takehara, CEO, Tourism Cares. 

“Through our innovative programs, such as our Meaningful Travel Summits and the development of our Meaningful Travel Map, we have been able to generate significant impact for local communities and social enterprises around the world. We are excited for this next phase of programming with our expanded map and its ability to diversify the travel supply chain to incorporate more impactful, locally led tourism experiences that will benefit destinations and the people that call those places home.”

At Skift, we are looking to unearth the most creative and forward-thinking innovations in travel through our Skift Ideas Franchise, which includes the Skift IDEA Awards, Skift Editorial Hub and the Skift Ideas Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO De Fries Will Step Down in September

1 year ago

John De Fries will step down as president and CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority effective September 15. ​De Fries did not accept an invitation from the board to extend his three-year employment contract.

He became president and CEO in September 2020 amid the pandemic. He was the first native Hawaiian to lead the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Once in the position, he tried to put a greater emphasis on destination management in response to community dissatisfaction with tourism’s impact on the environment and resident quality of life.

The island’s tourism agency had missteps in its attempts to change course. It had a messy procurement process to award the multi-million contract to market the island to the mainland U.S. 

Under De Fries’ time, the legislature stripped away the agency’s autonomy. Lawmakers removed its transient accommodation source and its state procurement exemption.

Hawaii’s lawmakers almost dissolved the agency in a recent legislative session. The agency came out of the session without a state budget and now has to submit funding requests to the governor, who will vet them with lawmakers.

De Fries was invited to extend his contract in the March board meeting. After the recent legislative session, he told the board on May 9 he would not extend his extension.


IDEAS: American Express Launches Directory for Sustainable Hotels

1 year ago

American Express Travel has launched ‘Stay with Purpose,’ an online directory of curated hotels and resorts that are committed to ‘initiatives furthering conservation, community development, and inclusive travel’.

Credit: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle

With American Express Travel’s 2023 Global Travel Trends Report indicating that 78% of respondents are interested in going on a vacation in 2023 that supports local communities, the directory has launched as more traveler’s commit to making their trips greener.

“The perfect hotel looks different to every traveler. Through growth and innovation, American Express Travel is offering more luxury hotel options in more destinations, and we are making it easier for Card Members to find and book hotels that align with their values,”  said Audrey Hendley, president of American Express Travel.

“These hotels are doing exceptional things when it comes to social and environmental impact – from coral reef restoration to horse rehabilitation, to employing local refugees – we are excited to highlight through the ‘Stay with Purpose’ directory,” Hendley continued.

Hotels listed within the ‘Stay with Purpose’ directory include:

At the Skift IDEA Awards, we are looking for the organization’s elevating the travel industry’s role as a force for good by affecting meaningful change, including the projects that focus on sustainability and creating a positive impact for the planet.

If you have an exciting project to share, head to the Skift IDEA Awards today and start your submission. The final deadline for entries is June 20, 2023.


Hawaii Awards U.S. Tourism Marketing Contract to Convention Bureau

1 year ago

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has awarded the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau the contract to market the island to the mainland U.S., the island’s largest source market, the agency announced Monday. The contract is worth over $38 million, has a two and a half year term with an option of a two-year extension and is scheduled to begin on June 22. 

The U.S. tourism marketing contract has had a rough procurement process. It was previously combined with destination management into one single contract by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. That contract was awarded last year to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, a community non-profit, as part of the state tourism agency’s pivot to a more sustainable approach to tourism and improve relations with residents. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has traditionally won the U.S. marketing contract and is backed the hotels.

The original contract’s implementation was stalled by legal protests from the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau then canceled at the last minute by a government official. The Hawaii Tourism Authority broke it up into two separate contracts, one for destination management and another for marketing, which is going to the convention bureau.

The agency awarded the destination management contract to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. It’s worth over $27 million for a two and a half year period with an option for two one-year extensions. It’s scheduled to begin June 20.

Finally, the contract to market to Canada went to VoX International, is worth $2.4 million, has an initial two and a half year term with an option for one two-year extension and is scheduled to begin June 30.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said the contract winners will advance the agency’s regenerative model of tourism. A key focus for contract performance will be resident sentiment improvement.


Hawaii Tourism’s Future Will Have Much Less Marketing

1 year ago

On Thursday, the Hawaii Tourism Authority was officially excluded from the state budget and now has to request funds from the state’s budgeting and finance department. The governor and legislature will vet the funding requests, putting the agency under their scrutiny. 

“We understand that our spending will be more scrutinized, and we recognize that we have a lot of work ahead,” said John De Fries, president and CEO of HTA. The funds for the agency will come from the $200 million lawmakers set aside to address a variety of deferred maintenance projects, a lawmaker told Reuters. ​​

During the legislative process, HTA requested a $75 million budget for this year and a $60 million budget for next year. Before the session ended, it was almost left with only enough funds to repair the convention center roof, keep the lights on and retain staff. The new funding agreement was between legislators, the governor and lieutenant governor.

With greater control over the purse strings, government officials will make sure the agency deprioritizes marketing and focus more on destination management. In a statement, Governor Josh Green said,”it is important that we figure out how we can shift this agency from its focus of marketing tourism to more strategically looking at destination management that would attract and educate responsible visitors.”

The agency has seen its autonomy and funding stripped away by the Hawaiian legislature over the last few years. Residents have been frustrated with tourism’s impacts on their quality of life and environment. Acting on their behalf, lawmakers have cut its budget, removed its transient accommodation source, removed its state procurement exemption and demanded more destination management work.

To mitigate overtourism and service residents, the agency incorporated a locals-first approach, which included a pivot away from mass tourism marketing and taking on destination management responsibilities. 

One major move toward the approach was the award of a $34 million marketing and destination management contract to a native community non-profit over the hotel industry-backed  Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, which has historically marketed Hawaii. Due to legal battles, the contract was stalled, then a government official’s last minute interference canceled the contract. The agency had to restart the process.

Jumping off the contract award debacle, lawmakers pushed a bill to dissolve the Hawaii Tourism Authority and replace it with an office focused more on destination management and less on marketing. The bill came close to passage but was deferred last week due to lawmakers not reaching consensus on it.

Short-Term Rentals Launches in the UK to Promote Community Tourism

1 year ago

Sustainable tourism organization has launched in the UK. 

Bologna-based, which promotes community-powered tourism, has launched in the United Kingdom, with a goal to bring in B&Bs, inns and other private accommodations. connects conscious travelers with hosts who aim to create sustainable and equitable communities around the world. 

Fairbnb’s 15 percent commission is used partly to cover operating expenses and the other half is donated to fund local community and social projects. In the UK, the coop will work with UK-based charity Big Issue Foundation and guests booking accommodations via Fairbnb in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, will be directing 50 percent of its booking fees to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. 

A listing of a Fairbnb accommodation in Italy. Source: Fairbnb.Coop

The platform also encourages hosts to adopt sustainable practices, such as using eco-friendly cleaning products, providing guests with information about local public transportation options and by providing information about local shops and trades.

The move for expansion comes at an opportune time for organizations like Fairbnb — reports suggest that the growth in the number of eco-conscious travelers is key for the growth of the sustainable tourism market from 2022 to 2027. Specifically, France, Germany, and the UK are the countries that will acquire over 50 percent of the market in the European region by 2027. 

Currently, Fairbnb operates in Belgium, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.