Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tourism

China Announces Visa-Free Entry for 6 Countries

7 months ago

In a strategic move to jumpstart its tourism sector, China has declared temporary exemption from visa requirements for citizens from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia.

Announcing this on Friday, the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, Mao Ning said the exemption period is set to last from December 1 to November 30, 2024.

Citizens from these six countries would be allowed to visit China for various purposes, including business, tourism, sightseeing, visiting relatives and friends, or transiting, for a period of up to 15 days without the need for a visa.

China’s recent initiatives to facilitate travel extend beyond this announcement. Just last week, the country broadened its visa-free transit policies to include 54 countries, with Norway as the latest addition. Foreign travelers transiting through China to visit a third country, can enjoy a six-day stay in specific Chinese cities without the hassle of obtaining a visa.

According to the National Immigration Administration, by the end of October, the number of foreigners visiting China had surged to 26.51 million.

China International Culture Association recently inked a three-year memorandum of understanding with online travel company Trip.com Group to promote inbound tourism.

Part of this collaboration involves supporting the Nihao! China campaign, an initiative launched by the China International Culture Association. The campaign aims to cultivate and promote cultural exchanges.

In a bid to enhance the overall visitor experience, Trip.com Group will also collaborate closely with Chinese cultural centers, tourism boards, and other organizations, working together to showcase the diverse and enriching tourism experiences that China has to offer. As China opens its doors, these collaborative efforts aim to position the country as a premier destination for global travelers.

Over the next three years, Trip.com Group had said it plans to invest in platform technology, marketing and promotion, and product integration to accelerate the development of inbound tourism in China.

Travel Technology

Via Acquires Citymapper to Enhance Navigation of Transit Systems

1 year ago

Via, a pioneer in transit technology, announced Thursday that it has acquired Citymapper, a UK-based premier journey planning app and transit technology company. Terms of the transactions are not disclosed.

Citymapper, which has over 50 million users in over 100 cities, provides technology for local transportation planning using a combination of walking, cycling, public transit, taxis and other available options. The platform selects the best navigation route for users based on preferred transit modes, arrival time, trip duration and cost.

Via optimizes public mobility systems by leveraging technology to build efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation networks in over 35 countries. The company raised $110 million in February 2023 with the goal of expanding its digital infrastructure. The acquisition of Citymapper follows the company’s acquisitions of Fleetonomy in 2020 and Remix in 2021.

Citymapper will become integrated with Via’s platform to build an end-to-end technology solution for transit systems. The Citymapper app will continue to be available for its users worldwide. As part of the acquisition, transit agencies and cities will benefit from a full mobility-as-a-service (“MaaS”) solution that enables transit agency riders to plan and book journeys across multiple modes of transit informed by delays, service disruptions, and route closures. 

“We have the utmost respect for the world-class product and user experience that Azmat and his team have built,” said Daniel Ramot, Via co-founder and CEO. “By bringing our teams together, we see an exciting opportunity to deliver Citymapper’s capabilities to cities and transit agencies all over the world, so that they can create the most user-friendly and relevant transit experience for their communities.”

Tourism

David Beckham Kicks Off Qatar’s Latest Tourism Campaign

2 years ago

As the countdown begins to the Middle East’s very first Federation Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) World Cup, host country Qatar now has British soccer star David Beckham promoting the destination for a stopover break.

The campaign features Beckham on a whirlwind trip to Qatar for 48 hours indulging in a wide range of activities from exploring the spice markets of Souq Waqif, soaking up local street art, cooking tacos to camping in the desert and discovering Doha on a motorbike.

https://youtu.be/xfaBoDMj1UE
The video featuring David Beckham’s 48-hour trip to Qatar.

In 2019, Qatar’s transit traffic stood at 40 million passengers, courtesy national carrier Qatar Airways. However, the country only received 2.1 million visitors — a mere 5 percent of the number of people transiting through the country.

Through this campaign, Qatar Tourism seeks to raise awareness of what it dubs is the, “the world’s best value stopover packages.”

Passengers can book themselves at a four-star hotel for as little as $14.00 per person, per night, Philip Dickinson, vice president of international markets for Qatar Tourism had said speaking to Skift in an earlier interview.

The campaign is aimed to encourage the millions who transit through Qatar every year to follow in David’s footsteps, Akbar Al Baker, chairman of Qatar Tourism and group CEO of Qatar Airways, said in a press statement.

“We have something for everyone at incredible value, whether it’s sun, sea, sand, rich heritage and culture, or a modern and fun city break,” Baker said.

Qatar expects to bring in 1.5 million fans during the 28 days that the World Cup is scheduled to take place in the country. FIFA estimates that the Qatar World Cup returns could reach $6 billion, Nasser Al-Khater, CEO of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, said this week while speaking to Qatar News Agency

Qatar had unveiled Beckham as its global ambassador for the World Cup in a deal reportedly worth $277 million. Beckham had however come under fire for failing to speak out about human rights abuses in Qatar.