Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

India’s TBO Acquires Booking Platform Jumbonline

7 months ago

TBO has acquired Jumbonline, an online booking system by Jump Tours Group. TBO Co-Founder Gaurav Bhatnagar made the announcement on LinkedIn on Monday. Based in India, is a travel distribution platform.

Jumbonline is a Spain-headquartered distribution platform for wholesalers and tour operators. Under the acquisition, TBO will have access to Jumbonline’s content, technology, clients, and talent, said Bhatnagar.

“This acquisition gives us access to great supply across Europe, the Caribbean, and North Africa amongst other destinations,” said Bhatnagar. “We also get access to Jumbo’s extensive client portfolio across Europe.”

Earlier this year, TBO fully acquired Switzerland-based BookaBed, a business-to-business accommodation wholesaler. The acquisition deepened TBO’s footprint in Ireland and the UK, the company told Skift.


Middle East Tourism Surpassed Pre-Pandemic Levels Before Israel-Hamas War

8 months ago

The Middle East exceeded its pre-pandemic international tourist arrival numbers by over 20% through September this year, according to the UN World Tourism Organization’s latest data. That’s before the Israel-Hamas conflict started in early October.

UNWTO accredited the Middle East’s performance to new visa facilitation measures, the development of new destinations, new tourism-related projects and hosting large events.

Other regions are still making a recovery. Europe took up the biggest share of global tourism at 56%, having welcomed 550 million international tourists. The region hit 94% of its pre-pandemic level. Strong U.S. and intra-regional demand is driving the rebound.

Africa hit 92% of its pre-pandemic international tourism level. The Americas reached 88% thanks to strong U.S. demand for travel to the Caribbean.

Asia-Pacific reached 62% due to its slower reopening to international travel. There are large differences within the region: South Asia recovered to 95% while North-East Asia was only at about 50%.

International tourism overall recovered 87% of its pre-pandemic level in the first nine months of 2023. About 975 million tourists traveled internationally between January and September 2023, up 38% from the same period in 2022.

This year, international tourism spending is projected to $1.4 trillion in, 93% of its 2019 level.


European Commission Proposes Enhanced Traveler Rights

8 months ago

The European Commission has proposed revisions that would bolster traveler rights and protections.

Here are some highlights: 

  • Persons With Disabilities: If an airline requires they travel accompanied, the person accompanying them will fly with them free of charge.
  • Travel Package Prepayments: Travelers will pay a maximum of 25% of the price of travel packages booked up to 28 days before departure.
  • Refunds Through Vouchers: Travelers will get an automatic refund if they don’t use their vouchers before the end of their validity period and protection against travel company insolvency.

There isn’t an estimated timeline for the proposals to make it into law, if they are approved. But Europe has some of the world’s most extensive protections and rights for travelers, and the Commission has a strong track record in this area.


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

8 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.


International Travel to the U.S. Reached 86% of Pre-Pandemic Level in August

8 months ago

About 7 million international travelers came to the U.S in August, which was 86% of their pre-pandemic level, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s latest data. About 3.3 million of international travelers came from outside North America.

India was the U.S.’s second top traveler market outside North America in August. The U.S. welcomed 221,000 travelers from India. Only the UK surpassed India with 396,000 travelers. 

This year, India has been the U.S.’s second largest traveler market outside North America. From January to August, nearly 1.2 million Indian travelers visited the U.S. The UK held the top spot with 2.5 million travelers.

Over 2.7 million travelers came to the U.S. with a tourist visa in August. Nearly 240,000 came with a business visa.

Nearly 8.9 million Americans traveled abroad in August, which was 94% of their 2019 pre-pandemic level. To date, over 66 million Americans have traveled abroad.


Iceland Readies for Volcanic Eruption: Latest Tourism Updates

8 months ago

Tourists won’t be allowed to relax in Iceland’s iconic Blue Lagoon for the quite some time. A volcano near the geothermal spa is very likely to erupt soon, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office

Residents of the nearby seaside town of Grindavik have been evacuated. Roads have been closed. There have been around 900 earthquakes recorded in the area since midnight on Monday. Grindavik is located 26 miles away from Reykjavik.

When or where the eruption will happen is uncertain. The location and size of the eruption will determine what the impact on flight traffic will be, according to Visit Iceland.

Blue Lagoon is closed until December 7. The spa has been closed since November 9. “We’re constantly reassessing the situation in accordance with the local authorities,” said a Blue Lagoon spokesperson.

Most tourist attractions remain open. The Golden Circle, the South Coast and the Northern Lights have not been affected and remain open. Tour operators Intrepid Travel, Jacada Travel and Kensington Tours are monitoring the situation and haven’t cut their trips to Iceland.

No flights have been canceled or suspended. All airlines are operating on schedule, according to Visit Iceland. There has been no impact to the Keflavik Airport, according to the U.S. Embassy in Iceland.

UK issued a travel warning. On November 11, the UK advised its nationals to monitor local media for updates and follow the advice of local authorities on travel to the area.

The Reykjanes Peninsula has experienced three eruptions in the last two years.

In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano experienced an eruption that disrupted over 90,000 flights.

Nearly Half of Destinations Offer Digital Nomad Visas: Analysis

8 months ago

Almost half of all global destinations now offer a digital nomad visa, according to a new analysis by the UN World Tourism Organization.

Digital nomad visas allow individuals to live and work in a foreign country while maintaining employment in their home country.

Here are some of the organization’s key findings:

  • 39% exempt digital nomads from tax payments.
  • 80% process applications within one-month period.
  • 76% have online applications for their digital nomad visa programs.
  • Only 6 % have no visa fees for their applications.


Americans Traveling Abroad Spent Record $18 Billion in September

8 months ago

Americans spent a record $18.3 billion traveling abroad in September, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office’s latest data.

International travelers spent $18.8 billion in September on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the U.S. That’s up 24% from the year prior and the highest level of monthly spending since December 2019, the month before the onset of Covid-19 cases.

Between January and September, international travelers spent more than $156 billion, up nearly 32% from the same period last year. On average, international travelers spent nearly $572 million per day.

With regard to strictly purchases in September, international travelers spent $10.8 billion on lodging, food, gifts and other goods and services, up from $8.2 billion last year.


European Tourism Mostly Remains Well Below 2019 Levels: Fresh Data

9 months ago

About two-thirds of European destinations remain below their pre-pandemic number of international tourist arrivals, according to the European Travel Commission’s quarterly report released Tuesday. The report covered the first nine months of 2023.

The destinations most far off from 2019 levels were Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania because of the Ukraine-Russia war. All three countries rely heavily on Russian tourists.

Overall, Europe is 3.2% off and 1.3% off from its 2019 international tourist arrivals and overnight stays, respectively.

Some destinations are seeing a strong comeback. One in three surpassed their 2019 international tourist numbers. Intra-European travel and American tourists have been the key drivers. The boom was most apparent in Southern and European destinations, notably Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Malta, Montenegro, and Serbia.

The European Travel Commission expects a full recovery in 2024 despite persistent inflation and geopolitical instability.


Certares’ O’Hara to Take Up World Travel & Tourism Council Chair

9 months ago

Certares Founder and Senior Managing Director Greg O’Hara will be the next chair of the World Travel & Tourism Council. He starts later this month, the organization announced on Friday.

O’Hara has served as vice chair since 2021 and has been a member of the organization ‘s executive committee since 2019. He will be taking over for the current chairman, Arnold Donald, former Carnival Corporation President and CEO.

Certares is a private equity firm that owns Internova Travel Group and has active investments in G Adventures, Brightline, American Express Business Travel Group, LATAM Airlines and other companies in the travel industry.

O’Hara is the chairman of American Express Global Business Travel and serves on the board of directors of TripAdvisor. Prior to founding Certares, he served as the chief investment officer of JP Morgan Chases’s Special Investments Group.

O’Hara recently shared his views on the future of travel at Skift Global Forum in New York City.