Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

Amazon Debuts Cyber Week Travel Deals

2 days ago

Amazon launched what one executive said was its “first-ever” Cyber Week Travel Deals.

Amazon’s travel deals hub offered sales from the likes of American Airlines, Disney, Universal, Budget, Choice, Avis, IHG and Carnival, for example.

American Airlines, for instance, was offering a Black Friday deal of $89 for a one-way Philadelphia to Charlotte flight on January 24, for instance.

The ads appeared on in its travel deals hub, and when users clicked on an ad, then Amazon directed them to the supplier website.

Amazon offers flights in India in partnership with MakeMyTrip, but doesn’t currently have a U.S.-oriented travel offering.


IDEAS: Six Senses Aims to Blend Heritage and Innovation at Southern Dunes, The Red Sea

2 days ago

Six Senses Southern Dunes, the Red Sea has officially opened in Saudi Arabia.

The Foster + Partners designed resort features 36 guest rooms and 40 pool villas that have been strategically placed to embrace the expansive views of the surrounding Arabian Desert.

Credit: Six Senses

According to Six Senses, the architecture and landscaping of the resort has been designed to ‘reflect the harmonious coexistence between Nabataean cultural roots and contemporary amenities,’ with the interiors reflecting the ‘tones and textures of the sandy dunes and soft furnishings drawing from the rich colors and patterns of traditional Bedouin tribal dress.’

Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea also aims to be the first LEED Platinum resort in Saudi Arabia, through a number of initiatives including electricity produced at a dedicated solar farm, a plastic-free policy, and chef’s garden for growing produce.

“Everything we’re doing here reflects our unwavering commitment to sustainability and cultural preservation, while also pushing the boundaries of adventure and wellness. This part of the world holds much intrigue for visitors and immense potential for regenerative tourism. We aim to showcase the unique beauty and cultural richness of this region, while promoting sustainable tourism practices that contribute to economic growth and heritage conservation,” said Fredrik Blomqvist, general manager of Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea in a press release.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


China Announces Visa-Free Entry for 6 Countries

3 days 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 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, 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, 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.


IDEAS: Las Vegas Encourages Excessive Celebration in Latest Super Bowl LVIII Campaign

3 days ago

With less than three months to go until the Super Bowl LVIII touches down in Las Vegas, the destination has launched a new campaign urging football fans to ‘celebrate excessively’ during its inaugural stint as host city.

Credit: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

As part of the campaign, which has been created by R&R Partners, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has launched an official petition on, proposing that ‘everyone in Las Vegas must be allowed to celebrate freely on February 11, 2024.’

You can view the petition here, which at the time of writing has 137 signatures.

As part of the campaign, an original track and music video has been released featuring Grammy-nominated artist Tobe Nwigwe and former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson. You can view the video below: 

“Las Vegas is built for celebration,” said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) in a press release. 

“People come to Vegas because they know that the excitement surrounding the game is just as important as the game itself. Whether they travel to watch the game in person or at a viewing party, fans know they will be surrounded by energy that is simply unmatched anywhere else in the world. As we prepare to welcome the Super Bowl for the first time, we are determined to show the world that when it comes to celebration, Las Vegas is in a category of one.”

When overdoing the celebrations at sporting events is usually discouraged, it is interesting to see Las Vegas take ownership of its status as the ‘home of Excessive Celebration.’

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Foster + Partners Reveal Concept Art for Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2025 Model Village

4 days ago

Foster + Partners has released concept images of its design for the pavilion for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at Expo 2025, taking place in Osaka, Japan.

Credit: Foster + Partners

The pavilion will be located on the Yumeshima waterfront, and has been designed to create a ‘spatial experience that echoes the exploration of Saudi Arabian towns and cities,’ according to a release from Foster + Partners.

The pavilion has taken inspiration from the organic textures and shapes of traditional Saudi villages, and will be built around a central courtyard – called the ‘Saudi Courtyard’ – which will provide a space for quiet reflection during the day whilst transforming into a venue for performances and events at night. 

Credit: Foster + Partners

From the courtyard, visitors will be able to explore a series of meandering ‘streets’ that will provide entry to a number of immersive spaces.

Credit: Foster + Partners

The pavilion, which will have the ability to be ‘deconstructed and reassembled, or completely reconfigured, to meet different requirements in a future location,’ will also be made from low carbon materials, and feature a host of sustainable features.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Online Travel

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky Was Actively Involved in Sam Altman’s Return to OpenAI

4 days ago

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky was actively involved in advocating for and advising ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in the run-up to his reinstatement “in principle” to the generative AI company, according to multiple published reports. OpenAI announced that deal for Altman’s return Tuesday.

Skift reported earlier in the week about the close years-long friendship between Altman and Chesky, and that the Airbnb CEO could be in line for an OpenAI board seat if Altman indeed returned.

The Information reported Thursday that Chesky was among a small pack of Silicon Valley heavyweights working behind the scenes for Altman’s return to the company he co-founded.

“Among them was Brian Chesky, the well-known co-founder and CEO of travel behemoth Airbnb, who has spent the past five days as a behind-the-scenes adviser to Altman,” The Information story said. “At one point he even acted like a media spokesperson by tweeting, and then deleting, a post saying that Altman and his OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman would soon have a statement to share.”

The Information added: “Chesky’s backing became one of Altman’s most important in the saga. Chesky was among the small circle of tech insiders on Tuesday negotiating for Altman’s return and for the composition of a new board of directors, a person familiar with the matter said.”

That story also said that Chesky wasn’t a favorite to win a highly coveted slot on a reconstituted OpenAI board precisely because Chesky and Altman are so tight.

After the sudden ousting last week, the OpenAI board has agreed “in principle” Tuesday for Altman to return as CEO. A new board is being instituted and will include former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo and the former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor as the chair.

In an X post, OpenAI’s account wrote, “We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo. We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this.”

Sam Altman added: “i love openai, and everything i’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together. when i decided to join msft on sun evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. with the new board and w satya’s support, i’m looking forward to returning to openai, and building on our strong partnership with msft.”

Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal contributed to this report.

Tour Operators

London Bans Sphere Venue. MSG Looking to Build in New Location

4 days ago

Sphere Entertainment Company, sister company to Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation MSG, is looking for a new location for its second Sphere venue after its London-based plans were blocked by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan. 

Khan rejected the Sphere project, similar to Las Vegas’ $2.3 billion Sphere, despite the development’s potential for significant foreign investment in the UK.

“While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those,” a Sphere Entertainment spokesperson told Skift.

Planned for the edge of East London’s Olympic Park in Stratford, Khan turned down the venue due to concerns about light pollution, increased electricity usage, and a need for more sustainable green energy solutions. The project also posed potential risks to heritage sites in the Stratford area.  

MSG’s executive chairman and chief executive, James Dolan, said in an interview with The Standard that the company had no intention to appeal. Dolan called the move “political” after a five-year process with the London Legacy Development Corporation, thousands of hours of consultation with community forums, and 100 changes to the proposed venue’s plans.

Dolan expected to sell the site pegged for the £1.5 billion ($1.87 billion) MSG Sphere arena

He questioned why London “wouldn’t want the best show on earth?”, citing U2’s extended residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas. 

“Everybody comes out of that show saying it’s the best thing they have ever seen. You should talk to Bono. He is going to be disappointed it’s not in London. Bono sees the Sphere in Vegas as an art installation. He tells me all the time. I also think he might like one in Dublin.”

Online Travel

Spanish Authorities Clear Amazon, Booking, Tripadvisor Over Alleged Fake Reviews

5 days ago

Spain’s anti-trust agency CNMC on Wednesday cleared Amazon, Booking Holdings and Tripadvisor of participating in or facilitating fake reviews on their websites.

CNMC had been investigating a complaint filed by the OCU, a prominent consumer organization in Spain.

“CNMC found no indication that the platforms have participated in or facilitated the publication of these false opinions,” the authority said in a statement, noting the aforementioned companies had collaborated with investigators.

However, the watchdog has sent the complaint to a consumer rights authority due to a possible violation of consumer protection regulations.

Amazon, Booking, and Tripadvisor — as well as Expedia Group, Glassdoor and Trustpilot — announced in October they were launching a group named Coalition for Trusted Reviews that would fight fake online reviews.


IDEAS: Gulfstream Completes Transatlantic Flight Using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

5 days ago

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. has announced that one of its Gulfstream G600 aircraft has successfully completed the world’s first trans-Atlantic flight powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). 

Credit: Gulfstream

The aircraft, which departed the company’s headquarters in Savannah, Georgia on November 19, landed almost seven hours later at Farnborough Airport in England.  

The SAF used on the flight was comprised of 100% Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (neat HEFA), and was produced by World Energy and delivered by World Fuel Services.

According to a release, it is hoped the data collected from this flight will ‘help Gulfstream and its key suppliers gauge aircraft compatibility with future low-aromatic renewable fuels, particularly under cold temperatures for extended flight durations.’

“Gulfstream is innovating for a sustainable future,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream.

“One of the keys to reaching business aviation’s long-term decarbonization goals is the broad use of SAF in place of fossil-based jet fuel. The completion of this world-class flight helps to advance business aviation’s overarching sustainability mission and create positive environmental impacts for future generations.”

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Tolga Lacin Leaving Marriott To Become Regional Ennismore COO

6 days ago

One of the most prominent general managers in Dubai, Tolga Lacin, is leaving his post. The Marriott leader is moving on for a role in Ennismore.

Lacin led some of Marriott’s flagship destinations in the emirate, including The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, the long-standing Le Meridien Dubai by the airport, and the newest W Dubai. He has been Marriott’s area general manager in Dubai since 2020 and its complex GM before that since 2019.

He will now become COO for Ennismore’s lifestyle brands in UAE and Turkey. In the UAE, Ennismore has 25hours, SLS, Hyde and a new SO in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi, it will open a Mondrian hotel. In Turkey, the operator is expected to open the Hyde Bodrum resort next year.

In total, he leads 14 hotels either in development or operational. Ennismore has eight pipelined hotels in the region, including a Delano in Dubai.

Lacin shared: “I’ve long admired what Ennismore has been doing in both the UAE and globally, and I’m delighted to be joining the team at such a pivotal moment in their growth. I look forward to working across such varied and iconic global brands such as SLS, 25hours, and SO/, and supporting our general managers and hotel teams to continue to deliver outstanding service and experience to our guests.”

Before becoming Marriott’s area GM, Lacin was a Starwood man. He has been with the original Westin and Le Meridien Mina Seyahi cluster in the city since 2009.

He will leave Marriott for his new role with Ennismore in early 2024.