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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, January 6, in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
The travel industry faces numerous critical issues in the new year as many destinations grapple with the damage brought forth by Covid and its variants. Yet, six underappreciated storylines will define 2022 in travel, says Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali in a special episode of the Skift Podcast. One of those underappreciated storylines, Ali says, is destinations such as the United States, Latin America and Dubai deciding to remain open to tourism despite the emergence of Omicron, developments that will have enormous implications for their economies. Ali adds another storyline to keep on is Chinese travelers, saying that visitors from the world’s most populous country will not be the economic force they were pre-pandemic as China becomes more isolationist.
Next, corporate travel — a sector devastated by the pandemic — is still expected to struggle to reach to pre-Covid travel volumes in 2022 as video conferencing continues to replace large amounts of travel. However, some businesses operating in the sector are managing to attract investors, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons. One such company is the world’s largest corporate travel agency, American Express Global Business Travel, which estimated it may only see corporate travel levels reach 70 percent of pre-pandemic figures. Amex GBT could see its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange in the first half of this year if a planned merger with blank check company Apollo Strategic Growth Capital goes ahead. A venture capital executive told Skift that more investment firms are focused on the travel recovery and possible investment returns, adding that despite the general belief that corporate travel won’t return to 2019 levels, a travel recovery above the 70 percent pre-pandemic figure projected by Amex GBT will be a boon for investors.
We end today in Barbados. The Caribbean nation is home to a new online travel booking platform that’s working to create new revenue streams for its tourism businesses, writes Global Tourism Reporter Lebawait Lily Girma. It is unusual in that it was launched by a destination itself. BookBarbados.com — which was launched at the end of 2021 — is a privately funded and owned online travel booking platform that allows users to make reservations for hotel stays, Airbnb rentals, and local tours in one place. It also aims to solve a problem several Caribbean countries have faced during the pandemic — delayed payments from major international tour operators. Close to 70 percent of hotels in the region had reported being owed significant amounts of money by May 2020. The platform’s future goals include offering cruise booking for ships sailing out of Barbados as well as other services visitors to the country might seek, such as a personal trainer. Peter Harris, the website’s founder, said he aims to expand the BookBarbados.com model to other Caribbean locations.
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