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Skift Travel News Blog

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


Strong Travel Demand Lifts Southwest Airlines, JetBlue

8 months ago

Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways have both seen travel demand improve since their last second-quarter guidance update in April.

Southwest expects operating revenues to be 12-15 percent higher than in 2019, which is either the upper limit of its previous guidance or three-points higher, the Dallas-based carrier said Thursday. The airline “expects solid profits and operating margins, excluding special items, in second quarter 2022 and for the remainder of this year.”

And JetBlue expects revenues to come in at the high end of the up 11-16 percent year-over-three-years range it previously provided, the New York-based carrier said Thursday. And in June, unit revenues — a measure of how much it makes per seat mile flown — are “shaping up to be meaningfully better” than April and May with an increase of 20 percent compared to 2019.

“The demand environment continues to be strong,” JetBlue said.


Japan Reopens to Some Overseas Visitors Starting June 10

8 months ago

Japan said on Thursday it would reopen its borders to international visitors on group trips, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The move follows an earlier announcement this week that tourists that test negative and live in specified countries with strong vaccine programs and relatively low rates of spread of coronavirus would be exempted from arrival testing and quarantine as of June 1, Travel Voice Japan reported.

There’s a limit on the program.

The 20,000 cap on daily visitors is below the average of 87,000 a day in 2019. At best, “the economic impact would be only one-fourth of that in 2019,” said Toshihiro Nagahama, an economist at the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute Inc.


U.S., Australia, Thailand, and Singapore are among the selected countries to start.

From a buying power perspective, now is a great time for U.S.-dollar-carrying tourists to visit Japan, as the buying power of the dollar stretches far because of currency exchange shifts.

Read more at the WSJ


Saudi Fund in Talks to Buy Seabourn Ultra-Luxury Cruise Line: Report

8 months ago

That’s according to a report in CNBC: in a very interesting move symptomatic of Saudi’s super-sized ambitions in the travel sector, Carnival cruises is in early talks to sell its Seabourn ultra-luxury cruise brand to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. Unclear so far if this is full sale of cruise line, or part-investment into Carnival.

According to Maritime Executive, Saudi’s sovereign-wealth fund acquired its first investment in Carnival in the spring of 2020 buying over 43.5 million shares of Carnival stock, about 8.2 percent of the shares outstanding, according to a filing with SEC. In its most recent filing, the fund reports it has increased the investment in Carnival to 50.8 million shares as well as $40 million in Carnival’s notes. 

Seabourn has a seven ship luxury fleet, including two new expedition ships either in operation or about to be. It has a large slice of the American luxury market – a big attraction for the Saudis, according to Cruise Passenger.


Japan & U.S. Top Resilient Tourism Economies Even Through Pandemic Challenges: New Data From WEF

8 months ago

The World Economic Forum is back with its travel competitiveness research, rebranded now as Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021, with a new focus on resiliency and sustainable future, as is to be expected in this post-pandemic ever-present climate emergency world. As to be expected,  high-income economies and countries in the Europe and Eurasia (Europe) and Asia-Pacific regions tend to lead the overall index in results.

Among the largest differentiators between index leaders and laggards are: the distribution and promotion of natural, cultural and non-leisure assets and activities; the availability of quality transport and tourist service infrastructure; the degree of international openness; and favorable factors such as (increasingly important) tech readiness and health and hygiene, the report lays out in detail.

Some more interesting charts of findings from the report:

Branded Residences Emerging As Large Licensing Opportunity for Hotel Brands: Bernstein Analysis

8 months ago

In an analysis of non-hotel room licensing opportunity for hotel brand, Bernstein Research wrote in a report this week that branded residences are proving to be a bigger opportunity for the likes of Marriott, Accor and IHG. Luxury dominates the branded residence market with the top brands being Four Season, RitzCarlton, and St Regis. Accor’s and IHG’s entry into this market was largely fueled by their respective purchases of Fairmont and Six Senses, the report says.

Dubai is the leading market for branded residents with 35 projects (and a further 25 in the pipeline), followed by Miami, New York and London. The fastest growing markets include São Paulo, Cairo and Mumbai. The data comes from Savills Branded Residences report in 2021, this chart below shows Ritz Carlton is the clear leader at the individual level, with Marriott being the biggest player at chain level:

Business Travel

TripActions Wants to Raise Even More Money — Reports

8 months ago

Corporate travel agency TripActions is looking to secure more funds, according to Bloomberg.

It said the startup was looking towards a $9 billion valuation.

The startup is reportedly in talks for a new round of funding at a higher valuation because investors are more keen on private technology companies due to the declining value of publicly-traded shares.

There’s also interest because travel is rebounding at a faster than expected rate.

Bloomberg said a spokesperson for TripActions declined to comment.

TripActions raised $275 million in October from investors including Greenoaks Capital Management, Base Partners and entrepreneur Elad Gil, giving it a $7.25 billion valuation.


Only Two Travel Brands Feature in U.S. Top 100 Most Visible Brands List

8 months ago

According to new rankings from the Axios/Harris Poll 100, an annual survey to gauge the reputations of the 100 most visible brands in United States, Delta and Spirit are the only travel pureplays featured in the list. The survey this year focused on how the social issues companies are increasingly leaving into affect their reputation. For Delta, its has improved significantly since 2021, along with its trust and culture scores. Last year’s survey was conducted less than two months after the company faced criticism for its slow response on Georgia’s voting rights bill.

The findings suggest that companies that are slow to respond to political crises, or do it inconsistently, suffer the most in terms of consumer reception and trust.

Disney, which has theme parks and hotels and cruises, was one of the biggest droppers of the rankings, mainly due to its controversies around the Florida culture wars. From the Axios story:

  • Disney’s ranking dropped significantly — from 37th last year to 65th this year — likely because of its decision to speak out about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill after initially opting not to address it.
  • Disney’s about face shows the reputational hit that comes when the public perceives you as being calculating rather than clear in what you believe in and stand for,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll.


Fashion Magazine Elle to Open Boutique Hotel in Paris, as Bulgari and Armani Expand Their Hotel Brand Extensions

8 months ago

Europe-based fashion magazine Elle has announced plans to open a boutique 25-room hotel in Paris, reported the Business of Fashion on Tuesday.

Parent company Lagardère Group plans to open 15 Elle-branded hotels in the next decade. Maison Elle, set to open in October, will include a library on fashion design and the decor will feature will aim to look like the magazine’s photospreads.

A seaside Elle Hotel is in the works in western Mexico with owner-developer Actur, Le Figaro reported.

Elle’s move follows a growing momentum of fashion houses investing in brand extensions and licensing deals with hotels, reported the Business of Fashion.

Bulgari opened its first hotel in Milan in 2004 and now operates seven across Europe, the United Arab Emirates, China and Bali. Its hotels have seen occupancy surpass pre-pandemic levels and revenue double since 2019, said Silvio Ursini, executive vice president of Bulgari Hotels and Resorts. In the coming three years, Bulgari will nearly double its footprint, opening five more hotels in Moscow, Rome, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Miami Beach.

In March, Armani, which has two hotels in Milan and Dubai, announced it is set to open a third location in Saudi Arabia in 2025. Earlier this month, LVMH, which owns over 50 luxury hotels through its Hôtels Cheval Blanc and Belmond Hotel Group brands, appointed a new hospitality executive, signalling its own focus in the space.

The new Maison ELLE boutique hotel opens in Paris this fall.

The new Maison ELLE boutique hotel opens in Paris this fall. (ELLE Hospitality)

Read More at Business of Fashion


U.S. to Increase Inbound Traveler Fee, Gain Additional $100 Million in Annual Revenues

8 months ago

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has raised its inbound traveler fee, called ESTA fee, from current $10 to $17 per passenger and extended to 2027. according to a notice in the Federal Register. ESTA is the online system through which nonimmigrant visitors intending to enter U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program at air or sea ports of entry must obtain an electronic travel authorization in advance of travel to the country.

As a result of this, the fee for an approved ESTA (which includes the travel promotion fee and a $4 operational fee) is $21. “As the $7 fee increase is relatively small compared to costs involved to travel to the United States, CBP anticipates that the fee increase will not adversely affect travel to the United States,” the notice said.

This fee is not kept by CBP or DHS. Instead, up to $100 million of fee revenue goes to the Travel Promotion Fund, which is then used by Brand USA, the travel marketing arm of U.S. This additional increase in fee will bring in about $100 million plus in revenues to the country depending on the forecasted number of inbound travelers to U.S., as the chart shows below:

Fiscal YearFuture Approved ESTA ApplicationsFee Increase AmountAnticipated Additional Revenue
202215,442,174$7 $108,095,215
202315,639,336$7 $109,475,353
203415,836,499$7 $110,855,491
202516,033,661$7 $112,235,629
202616,230,824$7 $113,615,767
202716,427,987$7 $114,995,906

Tags: CBP, esta

ExCeL London Gets Major Connectivity Boost

8 months ago

The new Elizabeth Line opened today in London with high-speed trains arriving at ExCeL London, the city’s main convention center, for the first time. The new train line is connected with the London Underground network and now provides a fast connection (12 min) to central London. Once the line is fully operational, the line will connect the venue with London’s main airport, London Heathrow, in 43 minutes.

This highly anticipated upgrade to ExCeL London will please event organizers hosting. The venue’s distance to central London where the bulk of London’s business hotels are located had long be an issue.

The project was originally referred to a Crossrail and was due to be completed in 2018. Once fully operational the line will offer direct connections to all of Heathrow Airport’s terminals and reach as far as Reading, in Berkshire, and Shenfield, in Essex.