Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, March 8, in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast examines what Amex GBT’s earning mean for the recovery of business travel, the challenge of using Airbnb to help Ukrainians, and South Africa’s new tourism marketing plans.
Even as more workers have returned to their offices worldwide over the last year, business travel is still struggling to reach pre-Covid levels. American Express Global Business Travel’s latest full-year results underscore how far the sector has to go to make a full recovery, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.
Amex GBT, which Parsons writes is often a bellwether for corporate travel due to its importance in the sector, posted a 2021 sales figure that was roughly a quarter of 2019 mark. Despite a company executive expressing optimism that business travel would recover significantly, several travel managers speaking at an online conference last week revealed only slight rebounds in corporate travel. Bank of America’s travel manager said company trips had recovered to 20 and 30 percent of pre-Covid levels while for Snapchat, that figure was up to roughly 40 percent.
Next, many Airbnb users are trying to show support for Ukraine by booking stays on the platform that they believe are with individual hosts, even though they don’t plan to stay in Ukraine. However, those users are sending money to professional hosts who may not even be based in the war-torn country, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.
The idea for booking Ukraine stays on Airbnb, which has waived host and guest fees in the country, came from an Instagram account and was endorsed by CEO Brian Chesky. Although Chesky said close to $2 million from bookings is going to hosts in need, it’s uncertain how much money Ukrainian hosts are truly getting. As Airbnb listings don’t specify whether hosts are professional or individuals seeking to make extra income, Schaal writes that a chunk of Ukraine bookings are going to property managers who might not even be based in the country.
In addition, one travel journalist said using Airbnb as a way to donate to Ukraine could inadvertently help Russia.
We end today in South Africa. The country is launching its first major global tourism campaign since the start of the pandemic, which it intends to be a vehicle to revitalize local businesses and communities, writes Global Tourism Reporter Lebawit Lily Girma.
South African tourism officials have said Live Again!, the new campaign that features a Black female traveler partaking in numerous activities in a recently released video, aims to use tourism to drive the country’s economic recovery and help reduce economic inequality. Girma writes the campaign symbolizes a major comeback for its tourism industry, which was hit hard by numerous nations enacting travel bans on South Africa after scientists in the country first detected Omicron last November.