Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tourism

The UK and Portugal Hope New Visa Fixes Can Fix Persistent Labor Shortages

1 month ago

Staffing problems in the hospitality industry continue to linger. Now, two countries are aiming to amend visa regulations to counter them.

A petition has been launched in the UK that seeks to allow European Union nationals to come to the UK to work in hospitality for up to two years.

“The government should create a special visa for people from the EU countries to come to the UK to work in the hospitality industry for a period of up to 2 years, similar to the Seasonal Work visa for horticulture workers. Some countries have visas like this to support the hospitality sector,” the petition says.

“There is a massive shortage of qualified labour in the UK to fill vacancies that were in many cases previously filled by EU staff. For years people from the EU countries were the backbone of the hospitality industry and many were affected by COVID and subsequently by Brexit’s final terms. Many restaurants are struggling to find people with experience and willingness to work.”

As of Sept. 2 it had secured more than 16,400 signatures. Once a petition reaches 10,000 the UK government is obliged to respond. At 100,000 signatures, the topic is considered for debate in Parliament.

The UK left the European Union on 31 Jan. 2020, with free movement between the UK and the European Union ending on 1 Jan. 2021, when a new points-based immigration process was set up that is far more restrictive than before Brexit.

Brexit is being blamed for many things, but staff shortages seem to be the biggest bugbear.

“Supplier labor will continue to be an issue,” Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said in May this year. “The UK will continue to be very challenged. The labor market is very inflexible post Brexit. You can’t bring in young Europeans.”

Portugal, meanwhile, is to speed up the time it takes to grant visas to citizens of other Portuguese-speaking countries, including Angola and Brazil, according to reports.

The other countries in the Community of Portuguese language countries are East Timor, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe.

Immigrants from these countries have had to get a visa if they plan to stay in Portugal for more than 90 days, Reuters reported, and often have to wait many months to get visa approval.

Employers’ confederations have said there are no workers available in key sectors such as hotels, agriculture and construction.

Tourism

Weak Euro Means Dollar Will Go Further for Americans Vacationing in Europe

3 months ago

The value of the euro is plummeting and that means Americans vacationing in Europe will see their dollars going further, CNN reported.

Three tourists with a selfie stick at Rome’s Trevi Fountain
Three tourists with a selfie stick at Rome’s Trevi Fountain

The euro’s falling means the dollar and euro are almost at parity, and “the UK pound is also weak: It’s exchanging at $1.20,” the report said.

That means more expensive vacations for Europeans and British.

Even if the dollar is strong, though, compared with the euro and pound, hotel prices across Europe in May were soaring in some countries compared to May 2019 before the pandemic.

Average daily rates in May 2022 were up in Italy (23 percent), Ireland (21 percent), and Spain (17 percent) compared with the same period in 2019, according to STR Global.

Airlines

UK Speeds Up Security Checks for New Airport Workers Amid Staffing Shortages

3 months ago

The UK government is accelerating national security checks for new airport employees to tackle staffing shortages that have contributed to a chaotic summer for travelers in the country and throughout Europe.

The country has sped up the vetting process all new aviation recruits must undergo, with accreditation checks being completed on average within five days and counter-terrorist checks taking less than 10 days — half of the average in March, according to the Department of Transport.

A common scene at airports this summer (Courtesy: Mark Hodson Photos/Flickr)

Staffing shortages have driven London’s Gatwick and Heathrow Airports to limit the flights the number during the summer travel season to avoid overcrowding. In addition, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told airlines to stop selling tickets for flights they cannot staff.

Short-Term Rentals

UK Government to Consider Short-Term Rental Registrations and Inspections

3 months ago

Citing a substantial increase in Airbnb listings, UK government agencies Wednesday issued an “open call for evidence” about the impact of short-term rentals, and floated remedies such as physical inspections of properties and a registration requirement.

The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, as well as two MPs stated that the call for evidence would last 12 weeks. The announcement cited a 33 percent increase in Airbnb’s UK listings in the 2017-2018 period.

jermyn street london short term rental via altido source altido
A residence on Jermyn Street in London that’s available for short-term rental via booking brand Altido. Source: Altido.

The aim is to improve the lives of people living in tourism destinations, and to understand the impact on housing, among other goals. the announcement said.

The announcement stated:

“The scheme, proposed in a new government review looking at the impact of increases in short-term and holiday lets in England, could involve physical checks of premises to ensure regulations in areas including health and safety, noise and anti-social behaviour are obeyed.

“Further measures the Government is considering include a registration ‘kitemark’ scheme with spot checks for compliance with rules on issues such as gas safety, a self-certification scheme for hosts to register with before they can operate, and better information or a single source of guidance setting out the legal requirements for providers.”

Reacting to the announcement, Merilee Karr, chair of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association and CEO of UnderTheDoormat, urged the government to distinguish between short-term rentals that hosts live in and those that are investment properties.

Karr said her association has previously called for a national registration plan as a precursor to collecting data and to develop any policies. She said short-term rentals “play a vital role in the English tourism economy, contributing to local jobs and businesses, providing a vital income stream for many individuals and families at this time of rising cost of living.”

Hotels

Premier Inn Owner Whitbread Names Dominic Paul New CEO

3 months ago

Premier Inn’s owner Whitbread said on Wednesday that it has named Dominic Paul as its new CEO, to succeed Alison Brittain, who has “decided to retire from full-time executive life” at the end of the year.

Brittain had steered UK-based budget brand Premier Inn for a half-dozen years, including through the shoals of the pandemic, while also helping parent company Whitbread sell its popular Costa Coffee chain to Coca-Cola. Brittain has also been the rare woman worldwide in a CEO role of a hospitality company.

“It has been an enormous privilege to lead Whitbread during a period of significant expansion for our well-loved brands, in both the UK and in Germany,” said Alison Brittain in a statement. “The business has recovered from the pandemic well ahead of expectations and is continuing to trade strongly and gain market share.”

Mr Paul most recently served as CEO of Domino’s Pizza Group and was previously a managing director of Costa Coffee for three years, and was also a top exec at Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Airlines

UK Doesn’t Plan to Dispatch the Military to Airports to Ease Long Security Lanes

4 months ago

A few days after Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary called on the UK government to temporarily send the army to staff excessively long airport security lanes, UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps told the BBC Sunday he doesn’t envision the need to make such a move.

A file photo of passengers queuing at Heathrow Airport. Reuters

Shapps said steps have been taken to ease the administration of security lanes. But while taking a conciliatory tone at one point, saying the government will “work with the industry very hard … to make sure we don’t see a repeat of those scenes,” Shapps also said the airline industry’s staff cuts were too deep and it needs to take responsibility for resolving the situation, Reuters reported.

“The industry itself needs to solve it,” he said. “The government doesn’t run airports, it doesn’t run the airlines. The industry needs to do that.”

On Wednesday, leading up to the Platinum Jubilee, Shapps told airlines they should cease selling tickets for flights they can’t adquately support after seeing massive lines and delays at security lanes.

The issue isn’t limited to the UK, of course. On Saturday, KLM ceased boarding passengers heading to Amsterdam because of the chaos at Schipol airport.

Tourism

Give Up Travel Because of Inflation? Gen Z in UK Is Undeterred

5 months ago

Despite inflation taking a chunk out of family spending power in the UK, only 8 percent of Gen Z respondents in a survey said they would give up vacation plans to cut costs.

But the Advertising Week Europe survey, conducted by Lucid, found a generational divide on the issue. Boomers — people age 68-77 — were the most likely (27 percent) to give up on their holiday dreams because of inflation, which saw the Consumer Prices Index jump 9 percent year over year in April.

“Fewer than half (46 percent) said they would cut back on travel and holidays, indicating cancelling trips already delayed by the pandemic is out of the question for many,” Advertising Week Europe said.

The survey also uncovered regional differences on the issue within the UK. For example, survey respondents in England’s southwest, which includes places like Bristol, were the least likely (9 percent) to quash travel plans because of inflation.

However, survey respondents in England’s east, including London, as well as people in Northern Ireland, were the most ready (23 percent) to cancel their vacation plans.

Meanwhile, plenty of U.S. residents plan to get into their cars or take flights over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

The Vacationer found that 60 percent of U.S. adults plan to travel during Memorial Day weekend, up from 27 percent a year ago.

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