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Business Travel’s Rebound Is Being Hit by a Slowing Economy

By the early fall, domestic business travel was back up to nearly two-thirds of its prepandemic level. But companies have now begun to cut back.

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By Jane L. Levere

Business travel came back this year more strongly than most industry analysts had predicted in the depths of the pandemic, with domestic travel rebounding by this fall to about two-thirds of the 2019 level.

But in recent weeks, it appears to have hit a new hurdle — companies tightening their spending in a slowing economy.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst for Atmosphere Research, said that corporate travel managers have told him in the last few weeks that companies have started to ban nonessential business travel and increase the number of executives needed to approve employee trips. He said he was now predicting that corporate travel would soften slightly for the rest of the year and probably remain tepid into the first quarter of 2023.

Mr. Harteveldt also said his conversations led him to believe that business travel would “come in below the levels airline executives discussed in their third-quarter earnings calls.”

Airlines were bullish on those earnings calls, a little over a month ago. Delta Air Lines, for one, said 90 percent of its corporate accounts “expect their travel to stay the same or increase” in the fourth quarter. United Airlines, too, said its strong third-quarter results suggested “durable trends for air travel demand that are more than fully offsetting any economic headwinds.”

Hotels, too, were optimistic. Christopher J. Nassetta, president and chief executive of Hilton, said on his earnings call that overall occupancy rates had reached more than 73 percent in the third quarter, with business travel showing growing strength.

The change in mood has come as the economy has more visibly slowed. Technology companies, in particular, have been announcing significant layoffs. Housing lenders have also been reducing staff, as rising mortgage rates cut into their business.

The travel industry has long relied on business travel for both its consistency and profitability, with companies often willing to spend more than leisure travelers. When the pandemic almost completely halted business travel in 2020, people were forced to meet via teleconference, and many analysts predicted that the industry would never fully recover.

But business travel did come back. As the economy reopened, companies realized that in-person meetings serve a purpose. In a survey taken in late September by the Global Business Travel Association, a trade group, corporate travel managers estimated that their employers’ business travel volume in their home countries was back up to 63 percent of prepandemic levels, and international business travel was at 50 percent of those levels.

One reason international business travel has not come back as strongly, Mr. Harteveldt said, is that some employers have imposed restrictions on high-priced business-class airline tickets for long-haul flights. He said employers are instead requiring travelers to take a cheaper connecting flight or to fly nonstop in premium economy or regular economy class.

“Travelers are telling managers they won’t fly long-haul in economy if they have to go directly to a meeting when they arrive,” Mr. Harteveldt said.

What will business travel look like in the next year?

Pandemic travel restrictions will probably play less of a role. A survey by Tourism Economics, U.S. Travel Association and J.D. Power released in October found that 42 percent of corporate executives had policies in place restricting business travel because of the pandemic, down from 50 percent in the second quarter. Over half expected pandemic-related business travel policies to be re-evaluated in the first half of 2023.

With Americans able to work remotely, many are combining professional and leisure travel, airline and hotel executives said on recent earnings calls. That was a big reason travel did not drop off in September, when the peak vacation period ended, as it used to in years past.

Jan Freitag, national director for hospitality market analytics at CoStar Group, said hotel occupancy by business travelers currently varies by market, with occupancies high in markets like Nashville, Miami and Tampa, Fla. — places where business travelers may well be taking “bleisure” trips. But hotel occupancies by business travelers are low in markets like Minneapolis, San Francisco and Houston.

Mr. Freitag said the lower hotel occupancies in some cities may reflect a lower return-to-office rate in those places, which reduces the ability to have in-person business meetings.

Mr. Freitag said he was “very bullish on group travel, trips for meetings, association events, to build internal culture.” Those trips will recover more quickly, he predicted, than individual business travel.

“It’s all about building relationships,” he said. “It’s very hard to do that online.”

On the other hand, short business meetings and employee training sessions may continue to be conducted online, which is less expensive than in person, said Grant Caplan, president of Procurigence, a consulting firm in Houston that advises companies on their spending for business travel, meetings and events.

Even as business travel has resumed, hotels, airlines and airports still have inadequate staffing. A survey of hoteliers by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a trade group, released in October found that 87 percent of respondents were experiencing staffing shortages. Although that was an improvement over May , when 97 percent of respondents said they were short-staffed, the current findings do not bode well for smooth hotel stays.

Disruptions in flying, particularly in the United States and Europe — because of weather delays, inadequate flight crews or air traffic control and security issues at airports — have been notoriously high, particularly earlier this year.

Although “we can’t say that these disruptions have discouraged business travel, they have clearly complicated” the experience for travelers, said Kathy Bedell, senior vice president of the Americas and affiliate program for BCD Travel, a travel management company.

Kellie Kessler, a pharmaceutical clinical researcher in Raleigh, N.C., said the travel disruptions she faced this year were too much. She changed jobs recently to take one that requires her to travel on business 10 percent of the time, compared with 80 percent in her previous position.

“The reason I took a nontravel position is that I can count on one hand the number of on-time flights I had this year,” she said.

And flight disruptions have led to a decline in some road warriors’ loyalty to airlines, even those who have accrued elite status in the carriers’ frequent-flier programs.

“The disruptions overall have caused me to be less loyal to any one airline,” said Trey Thriffiley, chief executive of QIS Aviation Group a consulting company in Savannah, Ga., that advises individuals and companies about their use of private jets. He is also an elite member of the loyalty programs at Delta, United and American Airlines. “Instead of searching by preferred airline or even cheapest price,” he said, “I search for direct flights or connecting flights to cities closest to where I live that I can drive home from if I need to.”

Airlines’ bullish forecasts notwithstanding, some experts find prospects for business travel this fall and next year extremely murky.

They say they cannot accurately predict how strong business travel will be and what airfares and hotel room rates will look like because of many unknowns, including the duration of the war in Ukraine and its impact on the European and global economies; increasing gasoline and jet fuel prices; and rising inflation, recession fears and political uncertainty.

Mr. Harteveldt, the travel industry analyst, said the recovery of business travel varies by geographic region, with the United States rebounding faster than Europe.

He said the Chinese government could be using its reopening strategy “in a geopolitical way,” adding, “If a country is more friendly, China will grant access to that country’s business and leisure travelers rather than to travelers from countries with which China has greater political differences.”

He predicted that 2023 would be a “difficult year” for business travel unless the war in Ukraine “comes to an abrupt end and there is more certainty about oil and the price of jet fuel.” Also a factor, he said, could be decisions by companies that may have added too much staff during the pandemic to save money by reducing business travel rather than by laying people off.

“If there’s a symbol that can be used to describe the outlook for business travel in 2023, it’s a question mark,” he said. “No airline, travel management company or travel manager can be 100 percent certain what 2023 will bring right now. It’s one of the most confounding, confusing times to be in business travel, perhaps in decades.”

In a report issued in August, Mike Eggleton, director of research and intelligence at BCD Travel, had a similar take on the immediate future for business travel. “Producing a credible travel pricing forecast in the current environment is incredibly difficult,” he wrote. “The near-term travel outlook is more uncertain than ever. Volatility has never been so high and seems likely to persist. There’s vast variation in market performance and outlook.”

Going forward, Ms. Bedell said, perhaps the overriding question about business travel will be whether the trip is necessary.

“Client-facing and revenue-generating travel is taking a priority over internal meetings,” she said.

How virtual tourism can rebuild travel for a post-pandemic world

tourism business news

The Faroe Islands is just one destination using new technologies to create a virtual tourism experience Image:  Knud Erik Vinding/Pixabay

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Stay up to date:, travel and tourism.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the travel and tourism industries;
  • Businesses in this sector must build infrastructure and practices that allow people to travel safely in a post-pandemic world and support local communities that benefit from tourism;
  • Augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies can offer alternative ways to travel the world and an exciting new model for the industry.

The tourism industry has hit a nadir owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will continue to feel the effects for at least the first three quarters of 2021 – according to a recent UN report , tourist arrivals globally in January 2021 were down 87% when compared to January 2020.

Travel will prevail over post-pandemic anxiety, making it incumbent on the aviation and tourism industry to build safer infrastructure and practices that take care of travellers’ well being.

Have you read?

International tourism is set to plunge by 80% this year – but some regions could recover more quickly, how global tourism can become more sustainable, inclusive and resilient, virtual reality adds to tourism through touch, smell and real people’s experiences.

After a year thwarted by the pandemic and with the future not looking too upbeat for the industry at this juncture, tourism business owners should look at alternative modes of interaction for holidaymakers that can also aid the people and economies who depend on tourism.

The COVID-19 pandemic has noticeably hastened the testing and rollout of forward-looking technologies. Technology has not only enabled citizens globally to interact with loved ones, but also helped industries such as healthcare, information technology, education and many more to work remotely.

COVID-19's Crushing Impact On International Tourism

In the last few decades, technology has helped travel and tourism industries increase their reach through travel booking websites, videos, blogs and travel photography. Digital tools and content are a vital source of information for vacationists organizing their next holiday or creating a destination wish list. Whilst remote or virtual tourism has been a futuristic theme within industry forums for some time, the world today, shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, might now be ready to accept it.

A human-centric design that draws insights from cognitive behaviour, social psychology, neuroscience and behavioural economics applied with cutting edge technologies such as augmented, virtual or mixed reality (AR, VR, MR) could be a game-changer. AR, VR and MR can enable a seamless, uninterrupted interactive experience for viewers from their own private space. The design principles will create a frictionless digital user experience and construct a positive perception of a tourist destination.

Pandemic Could Set Tourism Sector Back by $1 Trillion

There have been previous attempts to achieve this feat: if you are an aqua sightseer, you might be aware of a documentary exploring the Great Barrier Reef . Through an interactive website, one can view the clear, tranquil currents of the Pacific Ocean and the biodiversity of the reef, and experience the sounds of a healthy coral reef. Another much-discussed VR experience is Mission 828 which allows you to take a virtual parachute jump from the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Official Tourist Board of the Faroe Islands has also crafted a virtual experience to entice post-pandemic visitors from across the world.

Imagine a human-centric designed, interactive space online that makes a destination accessible and so real for a sightseer with sound captured by electro-acoustics researchers. You could view holiday sites in a video or through self-navigation using voice or joystick controls, interact with people using video-calling platforms, travel through the streets of said location, eavesdrop on local music and much more. This could be stitched together in a single platform individually or in silos on the internet and further enhanced by setting up physical experience tourism centres locally. Such a setup would allow tourist guides, artisans, craftspeople, hoteliers and transport business to create their own digital and virtual offerings and interact with possible customers.

Here’s how it might look: a vacationer starts their experience from the time their flight commences. The plane descends to the destination runway and pictures of the vicinity from the aircraft window pane are captured. The airport signage welcomes passengers and directs them to a pre-booked taxi. The vacationer gets to choose their first destination and travels through the streets in a chauffeur-driven car whose interactions en route become part of their cherished memories. On arrival, a tourist guide walks you through the destination all controlled with just a tap on your gadget. During the sightseeing, you hear random people speaking, posing for photographs and more. You take a photo to post on social media, go shopping and negotiate with a local vendor to purchase an artwork and get it delivered to your door. You learn how a local dish is prepared and get familiar with local customs.

A virtual platform could even provide an opportunity for people to explore areas that are affected by or fighting terrorism. For example, imagine seeing the diverse wildlife and snow leopard of the Gurez Valley, in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It doesn’t stop there: if thought through, one could experience travelling to the South Pole, space and beyond. It could also serve as a learning portal for students to understand geographies, culture, art and history.

With technology improving lives globally, virtual tourism could reignite the tourism industry and its people and help build a more sustainable economic model. As a human-centric platform, it can establish local tourist guides, artisans and others as global citizens in the tourism industry.

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Reimagining the $9 trillion tourism economy—what will it take?

Tourism made up 10 percent of global GDP in 2019 and was worth almost $9 trillion, 1 See “Economic impact reports,” World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), wttc.org. making the sector nearly three times larger than agriculture. However, the tourism value chain of suppliers and intermediaries has always been fragmented, with limited coordination among the small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that make up a large portion of the sector. Governments have generally played a limited role in the industry, with partial oversight and light-touch management.

COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented crisis for the tourism industry. International tourist arrivals are projected to plunge by 60 to 80 percent in 2020, and tourism spending is not likely to return to precrisis levels until 2024. This puts as many as 120 million jobs at risk. 2 “International tourist numbers could fall 60-80% in 2020, UNWTO reports,” World Tourism Organization, May 7, 2020, unwto.org.

Reopening tourism-related businesses and managing their recovery in a way that is safe, attractive for tourists, and economically viable will require coordination at a level not seen before. The public sector may be best placed to oversee this process in the context of the fragmented SME ecosystem, large state-owned enterprises controlling entry points, and the increasing impact of health-related agencies. As borders start reopening and interest in leisure rebounds in some regions , governments could take the opportunity to rethink their role within tourism, thereby potentially both assisting in the sector’s recovery and strengthening it in the long term.

In this article, we suggest four ways in which governments can reimagine their role in the tourism sector in the context of COVID-19.

1. Streamlining public–private interfaces through a tourism nerve center

Before COVID-19, most tourism ministries and authorities focused on destination marketing, industry promotions, and research. Many are now dealing with a raft of new regulations, stimulus programs, and protocols. They are also dealing with uncertainty around demand forecasting, and the decisions they make around which assets—such as airports—to reopen will have a major impact on the safety of tourists and sector employees.

Coordination between the public and private sectors in tourism was already complex prior to COVID-19. In the United Kingdom, for example, tourism falls within the remit of two departments—the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)—which interact with other government agencies and the private sector at several points. Complex coordination structures often make clarity and consistency difficult. These issues are exacerbated by the degree of coordination that will be required by the tourism sector in the aftermath of the crisis, both across government agencies (for example, between the ministries responsible for transport, tourism, and health), and between the government and private-sector players (such as for implementing protocols, syncing financial aid, and reopening assets).

Concentrating crucial leadership into a central nerve center  is a crisis management response many organizations have deployed in similar situations. Tourism nerve centers, which bring together public, private, and semi-private players into project teams to address five themes, could provide an active collaboration framework that is particularly suited to the diverse stakeholders within the tourism sector (Exhibit 1).

We analyzed stimulus packages across 24 economies, 3 Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. which totaled nearly $100 billion in funds dedicated directly to the tourism sector, and close to $300 billion including cross-sector packages with a heavy tourism footprint. This stimulus was generally provided by multiple entities and government departments, and few countries had a single integrated view on beneficiaries and losers. We conducted surveys on how effective the public-sector response has been and found that two-thirds of tourism players were either unaware of the measures taken by government or felt they did not have sufficient impact. Given uncertainty about the timing and speed of the tourism recovery, obtaining quick feedback and redeploying funds will be critical to ensuring that stimulus packages have maximum impact.

2. Experimenting with new financing mechanisms

Most of the $100 billion stimulus that we analyzed was structured as grants, debt relief, and aid to SMEs and airlines. New Zealand has offered an NZ $15,000 (US $10,000) grant per SME to cover wages, for example, while Singapore has instituted an 8 percent cash grant on the gross monthly wages of local employees. Japan has waived the debt of small companies where income dropped more than 20 percent. In Germany, companies can use state-sponsored work-sharing schemes for up to six months, and the government provides an income replacement rate of 60 percent.

Our forecasts indicate that it will take four to seven years for tourism demand to return to 2019 levels, which means that overcapacity will be the new normal in the medium term. This prolonged period of low demand means that the way tourism is financed needs to change. The aforementioned types of policies are expensive and will be difficult for governments to sustain over multiple years. They also might not go far enough. A recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) survey of SMEs in the tourism sector suggested more than half would not survive the next few months, and the failure of businesses on anything like this scale would put the recovery far behind even the most conservative forecasts. 4 See Tourism policy responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19), OECD, June 2020, oecd.org. Governments and the private sector should be investigating new, innovative financing measures.

Revenue-pooling structures for hotels

One option would be the creation of revenue-pooling structures, which could help asset owners and operators, especially SMEs, to manage variable costs and losses moving forward. Hotels competing for the same segment in the same district, such as a beach strip, could have an incentive to pool revenues and losses while operating at reduced capacity. Instead of having all hotels operating at 20 to 40 percent occupancy, a subset of hotels could operate at a higher occupancy rate and share the revenue with the remainder. This would allow hotels to optimize variable costs and reduce the need for government stimulus. Non-operating hotels could channel stimulus funds into refurbishments or other investment, which would boost the destination’s attractiveness. Governments will need to be the intermediary between businesses through auditing or escrow accounts in this model.

Joint equity funds for small and medium-size enterprises

Government-backed equity funds could also be used to deploy private capital to help ensure that tourism-related SMEs survive the crisis (Exhibit 2). This principle underpins the European Commission’s temporary framework for recapitalization of state-aided enterprises, which provided an estimated €1.9 trillion in aid to the EU economy between March and May 2020. 5 See “State aid: Commission expands temporary framework to recapitalisation and subordinated debt measures to further support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak,” European Commission, May 8, 2020, ec.europa.eu. Applying such a mechanism to SMEs would require creating an appropriate equity-holding structure, or securitizing equity stakes in multiple SMEs at once, reducing the overall risk profile for the investor. In addition, developing a standardized valuation methodology would avoid lengthy due diligence processes on each asset. Governments that do not have the resources to co-invest could limit their role to setting up those structures and opening them to potential private investors.

3. Ensuring transparent, consistent communication on protocols

The return of tourism demand requires that travelers and tourism-sector employees feel—and are—safe. Although international organizations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) have developed a set of guidelines to serve as a baseline, local regulators are layering additional measures on top. This leads to low levels of harmonization regarding regulations imposed by local governments.

Our surveys of traveler confidence in the United States  suggests anxiety remains high, and authorities and destination managers must work to ensure travelers know about, and feel reassured by, protocols put in place for their protection. Our latest survey of traveler sentiment in China  suggests a significant gap between how confident travelers would like to feel and how confident they actually feel; actual confidence in safety is much lower than the expected level asked a month before.

One reason for this low level of confidence is confusion over the safety measures that are currently in place. Communication is therefore key to bolstering demand. Experience in Europe indicates that prompt, transparent, consistent communications from public agencies have had a similar impact on traveler demand as CEO announcements have on stock prices. Clear, credible announcements regarding the removal of travel restrictions have already led to increased air-travel searches and bookings. In the week that governments announced the removal of travel bans to a number of European summer destinations, for example, outbound air travel web search volumes recently exceeded precrisis levels by more than 20 percent in some countries.

The case of Greece helps illustrate the importance of clear and consistent communication. Greece was one of the first EU countries to announce the date of, and conditions and protocols for, border reopening. Since that announcement, Greece’s disease incidence has remained steady and there have been no changes to the announced protocols. The result: our joint research with trivago shows that Greece is now among the top five summer destinations for German travelers for the first time. In July and August, Greece will reach inbound airline ticketing levels that are approximately 50 percent of that achieved in the same period last year. This exceeds the rate in most other European summer destinations, including Croatia (35 percent), Portugal (around 30 percent), and Spain (around 40 percent). 6 Based on IATA Air Travel Pulse by McKinsey. In contrast, some destinations that have had inconsistent communications around the time frame of reopening have shown net cancellations of flights for June and July. Even for the high seasons toward the end of the year, inbound air travel ticketing barely reaches 30 percent of 2019 volumes.

Digital solutions can be an effective tool to bridge communication and to create consistency on protocols between governments and the private sector. In China, the health QR code system, which reflects past travel history and contact with infected people, is being widely used during the reopening stage. Travelers have to show their green, government-issued QR code before entering airports, hotels, and attractions. The code is also required for preflight check-in and, at certain destination airports, after landing.

4. Enabling a digital and analytics transformation within the tourism sector

Data sources and forecasts have shifted, and proliferated, in the crisis. Last year’s demand prediction models are no longer relevant, leaving many destinations struggling to understand how demand will evolve, and therefore how to manage supply. Uncertainty over the speed and shape of the recovery means that segmentation and marketing budgets, historically reassessed every few years, now need to be updated every few months. The tourism sector needs to undergo an analytics transformation to enable the coordination of marketing budgets, sector promotions, and calendars of events, and to ensure that products are marketed to the right population segment at the right time.

Governments have an opportunity to reimagine their roles in providing data infrastructure and capabilities to the tourism sector, and to investigate new and innovative operating models. This was already underway in some destinations before COVID-19. Singapore, for example, made heavy investments in its data and analytics stack over the past decade through the Singapore Tourism Analytics Network (STAN), which provided tourism players with visitor arrival statistics, passenger profiling, spending data, revenue data, and extensive customer-experience surveys. During the COVID-19 pandemic, real-time data on leading travel indicators and “nowcasts” (forecasts for the coming weeks and months) could be invaluable to inform the decisions of both public-sector and private-sector entities.

This analytics transformation will also help to address the digital gap that was evident in tourism even before the crisis. Digital services are vital for travelers: in 2019, more than 40 percent of US travelers used mobile devices to book their trips. 7 Global Digital Traveler Research 2019, Travelport, marketing.cloud.travelport.com; “Mobile travel trends 2019 in the words of industry experts,” blog entry by David MacHale, December 11, 2018, blog.digital.travelport.com. In Europe and the United States, as many as 60 percent of travel bookings are digital, and online travel agents can have a market share as high as 50 percent, particularly for smaller independent hotels. 8 Sean O’Neill, “Coronavirus upheaval prompts independent hotels to look at management company startups,” Skift, May 11, 2020, skift.com. COVID-19 is likely to accelerate the shift to digital as travelers look for flexibility and booking lead times shorten: more than 90 percent of recent trips in China  were booked within seven days of the trip itself. Many tourism businesses have struggled to keep pace with changing consumer preferences around digital. In particular, many tourism SMEs have not been fully able to integrate new digital capabilities in the way that larger businesses have, with barriers including language issues, and low levels of digital fluency. The commission rates on existing platforms, which range from 10 percent for larger hotel brands to 25 percent for independent hotels, also make it difficult for SMEs to compete in the digital space.

Governments are well-positioned to overcome the digital gap within the sector and to level the playing field for SMEs. The Tourism Exchange Australia (TXA) platform, which was created by the Australian government, is an example of enabling at scale. It acts as a matchmaker, connecting suppliers with distributors and intermediaries to create packages attractive to a specific segment of tourists, then uses tourist engagement to provide further analytical insights to travel intermediaries (Exhibit 3). This mechanism allows online travel agents to diversify their offerings by providing more experiences away from the beaten track, which both adds to Australia’s destination attractiveness, and gives small suppliers better access to customers.

Government-supported platforms or data lakes could allow the rapid creation of packages that include SME product and service offerings.

Governments that seize the opportunity to reimagine tourism operations and oversight will be well positioned to steer their national tourism industries safely into—and set them up to thrive within—the next normal.

Download the article in Arabic  (513KB)

Margaux Constantin is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Dubai office, Steve Saxon is a partner in the Shanghai office, and Jackey Yu  is an associate partner in the Hong Kong office.

The authors wish to thank Hugo Espirito Santo, Urs Binggeli, Jonathan Steinbach, Yassir Zouaoui, Rebecca Stone, and Ninan Chacko for their contributions to this article.

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Can the tourism industry survive the climate crisis?

From the Solomon Islands to Denali national park, how five communities reliant on tourism are coping as climate change upends their industry

O ne of the terrible ironies of the climate crisis is that some of the most beautiful – and popular – places in the world are also the most vulnerable. Which means as temperatures rise, extreme weather events increase, water sources dry up and natural habitats die, these places are facing another devastating loss: tourists.

Tourism significantly contributes to the climate crisis – about 8% of global emissions – and hordes of visitors cause many more problems, including overdevelopment and degradation of natural areas. However, the revenue generated by tourists can bring enormous economic benefits to these destinations, many of which don’t have other forms of industry or would otherwise rely on extractive industries like mining or logging. Tourism can also bring awareness to environmental problems, such as coral reef bleaching or animal species at risk of extinction, and provide funding for conservation efforts.

This complex relationship was highlighted during Covid-19, when tourism came to a standstill. Carbon emissions plummeted. Wildlife flourished. Leatherback turtles in Thailand laid the largest number of eggs in two decades. But all of this came with a cost. The global tourism industry was hit with an enormous loss, creating an emergency in developing countries. Families struggled to find food. Illegal logging increased in some places, as did poaching .

As tourism starts to rebuild, it is becoming impossible to ignore that the future of the industry is inextricably linked to the climate crisis. The Guardian spoke to people working in tourist destinations around the world to ask how the climate crisis is affecting their industries and their worries for the future.

Denali national park

North of Anchorage, Alaska , US

The single access road leading to Denali national park.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Denali national park, the home to the highest peak in North America. The park, which covers nearly 6m acres in central Alaska, has only one access point: a single winding road that stretches more than 90 miles.

As rising temperatures have thawed the permafrost that lies beneath parts of the road, the road has rapidly deteriorated in recent years. In August, landslide movement forced the National Park Service to close the road at the halfway point and evacuate visitors trapped on the other side.

“The road closed abruptly in late August, on a Tuesday,” said Simon Hamm, the president of Camp Denali, a wilderness lodge on the far side of the closure. “We were given until Friday to evacuate guests, and a few additional days to evacuate staff.”

The closure ultimately cost the business $250,000 in lost revenue, and seasonal staff lost out on wages. A closure like this doesn’t just affect the lodge and the staff, said Hamm, but also the wider community. “We source a majority of our provisions from local fishers and farmers so we were unable to continue to support them.” In addition, the local education system gets funded partially through overnight accommodation taxes.

Left: Teklanika Glacier in 2004. Right: Teklanika Glacier in 1919. The easternmost Teklanika glacier has downwasted (surface elevation decreased) about 300ft (91 meters) between 1959 and 2010.

Recently, the National Park Service announced the closure would continue through 2022, as they work on a long-term solution for the road.

The climate crisis isn’t just causing landslides in Denali national park, but also tundra shrubification , increased wildfires and subsequent smoky conditions, drying of tundra ponds, electrical storm activity and the advance of non-native pests, such as the spruce bark beetle , which can cause disastrous tree die-off. “All of these degrade the natural environment,” Hamm explained.

He predicted the tourism industry across Alaska will see declines in response to tourists’ awareness of climate change: “I can imagine that our clientele will become increasingly self-aware about carbon-intensive travel destinations such as ours.”

Evia, Greece

North of Athens

A beach in Evia, Greece.

Marina Valli, the owner of Eleonas hotel on the Greek island of Evia, says that as hotel owners and olive farmers, she and her husband have been seeing climate change in their daily life for years. “The beach is now very narrow as water is coming higher every year. The road that was once next to the beach is now dangerously disappearing. The olive trees do not produce fruits as much as they did a decade before. The flowers bloom earlier or later than we knew.”

This summer, as Greece struggled with severe heatwaves and devastating fires, thousands of tourists were forced to evacuate at the height of the summer season. A video clip of tourists leaving Evia on a ferry in August as flames swept the island went viral.

Left: Flames burn on the mountain near Limni Village on the island of Evia in 2019. Right: Limini Village in 2013.

Valli’s hotel and olive grove on the northern end of Evia was damaged not once, but twice, by wildfire, forcing the couple to cancel weeks of guest bookings in August. Guests continued to cancel in September and October. “People were hesitant to visit us, fearing that the environmental disaster would prevent them from relaxing.” The cancelled bookings combined with the destruction of their olive groves, which they harvest and sell, resulted in a loss of €42,000 ($48,700).

Valli and her husband moved to Evia from Athens 20 years ago to turn an inherited plot of land into an organic olive grove. “We wanted to protect the landscape,” she says. “We live by nature and not at the expense of nature.” To prepare for a future of increasing heat, Valli and her husband are searching for olive varieties that can survive higher temperatures. “We do not know the extent of the changes the climate will bring.”

Solomon Islands

East of Papua New Guinea

Sunset in the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands is not only one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it’s also one of the most vulnerable to the climate crisis. It consists of nearly 1,000 islands, and the vast majority of the population lives less than a mile from the ocean, where they are seeing drastic rates of sea level rise, more than twice as high as global averages. In recent years, at least five islands have become submerged with another six severely eroded.

Andrickson Trahair grew up on the Solomons, and now owns and operates a small dive shop and guesthouse with her husband, Andrew. She sees the effects of climate change every day: trees being washed away by the tides, the shoreline creeping closer every year – and when Andrew takes tourists out diving, he often comes home with stories of bleached and dead corals. Trahair says that even the winds are unpredictable and different from when she was a child: “The weather system in the Solomons has changed.”

Left: An aerial photo of Sogomou Island in 2014. Right: An aerial photo of Sogomou Island in 1943. More than half the island’s land area has been lost to sea-level rise.

She worries that the climate crisis could have a huge impact on her business. “If there isn’t any coral, there won’t be any fish, then there’ll be less tourists to come to the Solomons as well,” she said. Historically, the main source of industry in the Solomon Islands has been logging ; tourism has made up a fairly small part of the country’s GDP. But Trahair says that over-logging has forced more people to find new ways to make an income, such as tourism. “Now we rely too much on tourism because there are no trees.”

The Trahairs are doing what they can to preserve the natural habitat of their home. In order to combat overfishing, they don’t allow spearfishing around the boundaries of their land. Andrew has started to transplant healthy corals in areas where the coral is bleached or dead. Some of the diving guests have come to help with the replanting. The Trahairs also speak with neighbors and villagers who live near them and encourage them to replant coral. “The coral replanting is doing really well,” Trahair says. “We try our best.”

Victoria Falls

The border of Zambia and Zimbabwe

Water tumbling down Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls is one of the most striking waterfalls in the world. More than a mile across, and over 350ft (107 meters) high, enormous cascades of water plummet over a ledge of volcanic rock. It’s one of the main tourist attractions in southern Africa, bringing about 1 million visitors a year to the area.

But increasingly severe droughts caused by the climate crisis – and visitor concerns about climate impacts – have seen those numbers dwindle, leaving the local tourism sector worried about the future. Sydney Ncube, who works in the food and beverage department of the A’Zambezi River Lodge, says that drought causes food shortages that affect his industry. “Local farms couldn’t produce enough [fruits and vegetables] due to drought,” he said.

For local tourism businesses, their fear of drought is twofold: the drought itself and the way the drought is reported in the media, further discouraging tourists from visiting and depriving the region of tourism dollars precisely when they need them most.

Left: Victoria Falls in late 2019 after a season of historic droughts. Right: Victoria Falls in the beginning of 2019.

In 2019, a reporter from Sky News filmed a segment at Victoria Falls showing only a trickle of water, talking about the impacts of climate change. John McMillan, the owner of Where To Africa, a tour operation company, said this segment had an enormous impact on the local tourism industry, even months later when the falls were flowing again. “Everyone was saying that the falls had dried up, which resulted in a spate of cancellations severely affecting [tour] operators.”

In countries like Zimbabwe, home to endangered animals such as cheetahs, rhinos and elephants, impacts on the tourism industry can profoundly derail conservation efforts.

“Conservation organizations rely on tourists to raise the necessary money to fund conservation and community development programs, and if tourism dries up, to a large extent so does the funding for this,” McMillan said. “On the other side of the coin, when the food sources of the local population disappear, it results in an increase of poaching incidents as the population struggles to find food and survive.”

Great Barrier Reef

Off the coast of north-east Australia

Fish swimming in the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most complex natural ecosystems in the world. It stretches 1,500 miles (2,400km) along the entire north-eastern coast of Australia and is made up of nearly a thousand islands and 3,000 individual reefs, ranging from shallow estuaries to deep sea water. In the past five years, the warming ocean waters have caused three major bleaching events .

Left: A coral in May 2016 after a mass bleaching event. Right: The same coral in March 2016, healthy.

Tony Fontes has spent the last 40 years diving on the Great Barrier Reef and working as a Padi scuba instructor. He says the tourism industry in local areas is inextricably tied to the health of the reef. “A dead reef is not conducive to long term tourism.” Even though he says much of the reef is still in pristine condition, Tony points out that as long as coral bleaching is decreasing the number of healthy reefs, it will eventually end the local industry. “That would be a very sad day indeed. Not only would we have lost the greatest reef in the world, but Australia would lose its most important natural resource. The reef has an economic, social and icon asset value of A$56bn . It supports 64,000 jobs and contributes $6.4bn to the Australian economy.”

In order for the tourism industry to advocate for reef conservation, Fontes says they first need to be willing to admit that the climate crisis a problem. “Many tourism operators don’t want to draw attention to the fact that the reef is less than pristine. It is almost like they believe that if they don’t talk about climate change, it will go away.”

As the plight of the coral reefs becomes more well-known, that attitude is changing. “More tourism operators are running reef restoration programs, getting their guests involved in repairing damaged reefs and raising their awareness of the serious impact of climate change.” Fontes says he’s also seen operators switch to electric-powered boats, and even knows one operator who is building a boat that can run on hydrogen.

Taking care of the reef isn’t just an altruistic act; for many of these dive boat operators, it’s fighting for their livelihoods. “There is no doubt that the health of the reef and the health of the dive industry on the reef are joined at the hip,” Fontes explains. “The reef dies, diving dies.”

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Fact sheet: 2022 national travel and tourism strategy, office of public affairs.

The 2022 National Travel and Tourism Strategy was released on June 6, 2022, by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo on behalf of the Tourism Policy Council (TPC). The new strategy focuses the full efforts of the federal government to promote the United States as a premier destination grounded in the breadth and diversity of our communities, and to foster a sector that drives economic growth, creates good jobs, and bolsters conservation and sustainability. Drawing on engagement and capabilities from across the federal government, the strategy aims to support broad-based economic growth in travel and tourism across the United States, its territories, and the District of Columbia.

Key points of the 2022 National Travel and Tourism Strategy

The federal government will work to implement the strategy under the leadership of the TPC and in partnership with the private sector, aiming toward an ambitious five-year goal of increasing American jobs by attracting and welcoming 90 million international visitors, who we estimate will spend $279 billion, annually by 2027.

The new National Travel and Tourism Strategy supports growth and competitiveness for an industry that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, generated $1.9 trillion in economic output and supported 9.5 million American jobs. Also, in 2019, nearly 80 million international travelers visited the United States and contributed nearly $240 billion to the U.S. economy, making the United States the global leader in revenue from international travel and tourism. As the top services export for the United States that year, travel and tourism generated a $53.4 billion trade surplus and supported 1 million jobs in the United States.

The strategy follows a four-point approach:

  • Promoting the United States as a Travel Destination Goal : Leverage existing programs and assets to promote the United States to international visitors and broaden marketing efforts to encourage visitation to underserved communities.
  • Facilitating Travel to and Within the United States Goal : Reduce barriers to trade in travel services and make it safer and more efficient for visitors to enter and travel within the United States.
  • Ensuring Diverse, Inclusive, and Accessible Tourism Experiences Goal : Extend the benefits of travel and tourism by supporting the development of diverse tourism products, focusing on under-served communities and populations. Address the financial and workplace needs of travel and tourism businesses, supporting destination communities as they grow their tourism economies. Deliver world-class experiences and customer service at federal lands and waters that showcase the nation’s assets while protecting them for future generations.
  • Fostering Resilient and Sustainable Travel and Tourism Goal : Reduce travel and tourism’s contributions to climate change and build a travel and tourism sector that is resilient to natural disasters, public health threats, and the impacts of climate change. Build a sustainable sector that integrates protecting natural resources, supporting the tourism economy, and ensuring equitable development.

Travel and Tourism Fast Facts

  • The travel and tourism industry supported 9.5 million American jobs through $1.9 trillion of economic activity in 2019. In fact, 1 in every 20 jobs in the United States was either directly or indirectly supported by travel and tourism. These jobs can be found in industries like lodging, food services, arts, entertainment, recreation, transportation, and education.
  • Travel and tourism was the top services export for the United States in 2019, generating a $53.4 billion trade surplus.
  • The travel and tourism industry was one of the U.S. business sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent health and travel restrictions, with travel exports decreasing nearly 65% from 2019 to 2020. 
  • The decline in travel and tourism contributed heavily to unemployment; leisure and hospitality lost 8.2 million jobs between February and April 2020 alone, accounting for 37% of the decline in overall nonfarm employment during that time. 
  • By 2021, the rollout of vaccines and lifting of international and domestic restrictions allowed travel and tourism to begin its recovery. International arrivals to the United States grew to 22.1 million in 2021, up from 19.2 million in 2020. Spending by international visitors also grew, reaching $81.0 billion, or 34 percent of 2019’s total.

More about the Tourism Policy Council and the 2022 National Travel and Tourism Strategy

Created by Congress and chaired by Secretary Raimondo, the Tourism Policy Council (TPC) is the interagency council charged with coordinating national policies and programs relating to travel and tourism. At the direction of Secretary Raimondo, the TPC created a new five-year strategy to focus U.S. government efforts in support of the travel and tourism sector which has been deeply and disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full strategy here

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Reimagining business travel, without all the baggage

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Since travel came to a screeching halt in March 2020, many have predicted that business travel might never recover, given the advances of video conferencing and the embrace of work from home policies.

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But global business travel spending is expected to surpass 2019 levels this year, according to the Global Business Travel Association’s Business Travel Index released in August — that's two years sooner than GBTA was forecasting the previous year. A Mastercard survey of travel decision-makers , also released in August, found that nine out of 10 believe business travel is still critical for driving growth, and more than half expect to spend more than $1 billion on travel in 2025, up from 11% pre-pandemic.

That’s music to the ears of airlines and convention hotels, but technological advances, changing expectations and new pressures have also altered the business travel landscape in ways that may ease the journey for road warriors and frequent flyers – and the corporate teams who manage their travel. Here are five trends shaping business travel in 2024.

01 'Bleisure' is here to stay

Remote work is here to stay, and some companies have even instituted “work from anywhere” benefits, giving employees the opportunity to stretch out vacations abroad or visits to family. It also means corporate travelers can extend business trips by a few days, giving them a chance to explore more than just the convention hall or hotel amenities. The days of two-day international business trips may soon be in the rear-view mirror, as employees enjoy the perks of flexible office policies. But a distributed workforce can create new challenges when it comes to monitoring spending — a person working from home might have different expenses than a traditional office worker, like buying subscriptions, office furniture and computer equipment, which can make it more difficult for companies to predict and account for spending.

02 Business travel, consumer experience

For companies, combining business and travel is not always smooth sailing — managing expenses and reimbursements can get complicated. And for employees, the ease of paying with a tap or a click in their daily lives is missing from travel and entertainment payments, as anyone who labored over an expense report can attest. That’s why many companies are moving to virtual cards for travel expenses. These cards are created instantly for specific purposes — a business trip, a client dinner at a conference, travel arrangements for a promising recruit — with customized spend controls, such as the amount, time period and type of purchase where the cards can be used, producing detailed data for tracking, reporting and automated reconciliation. They can even be issued directly to mobile wallets, creating contactless travel experiences.

These heightened consumer expectations could also make companies expand the benefits on their commercial and corporate T&E cards — better travel insurance, concierge support, telemedicine offerings and access to airport lounges, for example.

03 AI at your service

Another extension of the “consumerization” of business travel? The AI tools taking hold in the leisure travel sector, including virtual travel agents that can customize itineraries and lock in low fares, are likely to make waves in corporate travel as well. These bots can tailor travel based on T&E policy, budget and employee preferences. And with the cost of business travel rising – CWT’s Global Business Travel Forecast for 2024 shows a 3% rise in average cost per attendee per day for meetings and events, and a 3.6% increase in hotel rates — corporate travel teams can use AI for better price predictions, more proactively managing their budgets. It can also help these teams build more dynamic policies and even adjust spending limits by analyzing past spend on a much more granular level. AI tools can simplify the arduous expense report process for both employees and finance teams by automating the capture and review of repetitive and predictable expenses. Nine in 10 travel decision-makers plan on investing in AI and machine learning to improve processes and personalize travel for their employees, according to the Mastercard survey.

04 Tracking the impact of travel

Many corporations are making concerted efforts to lower their carbon footprint. Nine in 10 travel decision-makers in Mastercard’s survey said they are more focused on tracking environmental, social and governance efforts — greenhouse gas emissions from company travel, for example. Carbon emissions tracking tools that show carbon footprint of business trips and seat selections can drive more environmentally conscious travel decisions. With sustainability at the top of corporate agendas, we can expect companies to seek out ways to help them achieve their sustainability goals. Mastercard’s T&E Consulting Services, for example, helps corporations re-evaluate their T&E policies and procedures, assess supplier performance and improve for the future.  

05 The rise of the chief travel officer

At many organizations, the responsibility for corporate travel is split between human resources, finance, procurement, technology and even security teams. Even if they’re using the same tools and platforms, there’s often a disconnect when it comes to long-term strategy and decision-making. As business travel becomes more automated, larger companies may benefit from a chief travel officer — someone who can work across the organization to streamline processes, discover efficiencies and make the most of these emerging tools, enterprise solutions and corporate card benefits, including travel risk management services, concierge support and telemedicine offerings.

The resurgence of business travel illustrates the enduring value of in-person interactions — the building of relationships, the sparking of innovation, the deepening of trust that comes from sitting across the table or sharing a meal. Technology may have enabled the rise of virtual work, but technology is also making business travel smarter and more seamless than ever before.

This month, the Mastercard Newsroom is exploring how rapidly evolving technology, heightened consumer expectations and economic and societal pressures are changing how we live, work, shop and innovate.  

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Peru gives in to protesters in Machu Picchu and rescinds ticket sales contract with private firm

FILE - The Machu Picchu archeological site is devoid of tourists while it's closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in the department of Cusco, Peru, Oct. 27, 2020. Cusco, the town closest to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, is nearly empty of tourists on Jan. 31, 2024 as workers protest the government's outsourcing ticket sales to one large private company, saying it could hurt small tourism companies that offer lodging, food and logistics. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia, File)

FILE - The Machu Picchu archeological site is devoid of tourists while it’s closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in the department of Cusco, Peru, Oct. 27, 2020. Cusco, the town closest to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, is nearly empty of tourists on Jan. 31, 2024 as workers protest the government’s outsourcing ticket sales to one large private company, saying it could hurt small tourism companies that offer lodging, food and logistics. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia, File)

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LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru’s government on Wednesday backtracked on plans to outsource the sale of entry tickets to Machu Picchu to a private company, a week after protesters blocked access to the country’s most famous tourist attraction and rail service to the area was suspended.

Despite the resolution, the streets, hotels and restaurants around the site remained almost deserted.

Eleven days after the government announced the change in the ticketing system, which had been in the hands of a state entity for 15 years, the executive relented and terminated the contract questioned by the local tourism sector.

Peru’s Minister of Culture Leslie Urteaga, who had alleged irregularities and a loss of $1.8 million for tickets not reported by state offices, finally agreed to the protesters’ request after meeting with the regional president of Cusco and the mayor of the Machu Picchu district.

Panama's former President Ricardo Martinelli waves to supporters during a campaign rally, in Panama City, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. Panama’s Supreme Court on Friday denied an appeal from Martinelli, convicted of money laundering in the case of a media company he purchased, likely ending his re-election bid. (AP Photo/Agustin Herrera)

The authorities committed to moving ticket sales to an online platform managed by the national government and rescinded the contract with Joinnus, the virtual ticket sales firm owned by one of the wealthiest economic groups in Peru who had taken over the service in mid January.

Rail service to the area — which had been suspended on Friday — promptly resumed, but visitor arrivals were still slowed to a trickle.

“This seems like the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, you hardly see any people,” said Roger Monzón, an employee at the Inkas Land hotel in the Machu Picchu district, an 18-room building currently housing only two tourists from Portugal.

The few tourists who persisted in visiting the Inca site during the weeklong demonstration, most of them young, had to navigate a longer and more difficult road. They would drive 210 kilometers (130 miles) from Cusco to a hydroelectric plant from where they would walk two hours to reach the Machu Picchu district, where they rested. Then they had to walk to the stone citadel for another 2 1/2 hours.

Four countries — the United States, Germany, France and Brazil — had advised their citizens to be cautious if they were planning to visit Machu Picchu, a World Heritage Site since 1983, citing the potential lack of water and other essentials resulting from transport disruptions.

Tourism is the main economic activity in Cusco, with more than 200,000 people having direct jobs in the sector. In times before the protests, up to 4,500 visitors entered Machu Picchu every day.

There are no official figures on potential losses during the first week of protests, but some tourism unions estimate the damage at about $4.7 million.

“The losses include all sectors that are directly linked to tourism such as tourist agencies, hotels, restaurants, tour guides, but also markets, taxi drivers and peasant communities,” said Elena González, president of the Association of Cusco Tourism Agencies.

Follow AP’s coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean at https://apnews.com/hub/latin-america

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Mardi Gras just keeps getting bigger and bigger

  • The economic impact of the 2023 Mardi Gras celebration was $891 million, according to a new study.
  • That is nearly double the amount estimated for 2014's Mardi Gras.
  • Mardi Gras's economic impact on New Orleans rivals that of last year's biggest sporting events.

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Mardi Gras kicks off on February 13, and the money it's expected to bring to the New Orleans area is close to what some of the biggest sports events funneled into host cities last year.

According to a study by Tulane economics professor Toni L. Weiss published in January, the economic impact of the 2023 Mardi Gras celebration was $891 million. That is nearly double the amount Weiss estimated for 2014's Mardi Gras, $465 million , which was the last time she conducted the study.

Weiss attributes this change to the growth of Mardi Gras between 2014 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and believes the event will resume its expansion. As more people flocked to the area, more events were created.

"The economic impact of Mardi Gras continued to grow as the local and national economy was expanding," Weiss wrote in the report. "Parades grew in number and length, and more celebrants came to New Orleans during the Mardi Gras season."

The full economic impact of Mardi Gras also extends to the local krewes — the social organizations that stage the parades — who spend all year putting time and money into preparing for the nearly 40 parades and other events, Weiss said.

The estimated economic impact of last year's Mardi Gras is also $411 million more than the city's last Super Bowl in 2013, which brought in $480 million, according to the University of New Orleans.

Mardi Gras's economic impact on New Orleans is starting to rival that of last year's biggest sporting events in the US. For example, the 2023 Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, was estimated to be worth $1.3 billion to the local economy . What's more, the Las Vegas Grand Prix Formula 1 race in November 2023 was also projected to have a $1.3 billion economic impact on the region.

The economic impact is bigger than just 2 weeks

Weiss believes the estimates in her study are lower than the real economic impact because tourists flock to the city throughout the year for the lore of Mardi Gras.

"When looking at the brand value, tourists come to New Orleans throughout the year because of the aura, mystic, etc., of Mardi Gras," Weiss said. "You can see that when you see non-locals walking around with Mardi Gras beads in July. Visitors are drawn to New Orleans even in the offseason, captivated by the Mardi Gras legacy."

Additionally, business conventions that come to the city throughout the year still want the Mardi Gras experience and add to the city's financial boost by putting on mini Mardi Gras events, Weiss said.

According to a small 2023 Tulane University survey cited in Weiss's study, only 14% of 297 respondents celebrating the event were from the New Orleans area. Tourists from another state represented 62% of those surveyed, and 2% were from another country.

Additionally, out-of-town visitors are believed to have spent more than $140 million during Mardi Gras, including $84 million on lodging.

The study concluded that the city of New Orleans brought in $2.64 for every $1 invested in the festival, including more than $18 million in taxes related to Mardi Gras spending.

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Watch: Mardi Gras was canceled for the first time in decades — so New Orleans residents are turning their houses into parade floats instead

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BRAC, Louisiana Travel Association pick 2024 leadership

  • Feb 4, 2024
  • 1 min to read

Jessica Williams has been elected to the board of directors for the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter.

Williams is a customer service regional manager at Entergy.

David Mullens will continue to serve as the board chair for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber in 2024.

Mullens is the Louisiana market president for Capital One.

Mullens has served the Baton Rouge community on a variety of boards and committees, including the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, Boys & Girls Club of Metro Louisiana and Mid City Redevelopment Alliance.

The 2024 BRAC Board of Directors includes Helena Cunningham , CEO of National Housing Consulting Services, past chair; Bob Barton , partner with Taylor Porter, general counsel; Eric Thomas , vice president and general manager of Nexstar Media, treasurer; Nial Patel , principal with Cornerstone Government Affairs, first chair-elect; and Klein Kirby , CEO of A. Wilbert’s Sons, second chair-elect/secretary.

Charles Stewart has joined the board of directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Louisiana.

Stewart is vice president — commercial relationship manager for First Horizon Bank. He earned a bachelor's in interdisciplinary studies from LSU.

The Louisiana Travel Association recently installed new officers for its executive committee and appointed members to its board of directors.

The 2024 LTA officers are Ralph Ney , Baton Rouge Marriott, chair; Donna O’Daniels , Louisiana Northshore, vice chair; Carla Tate , Tangi Tourism, secretary; and Alana Cooper , Discover Monroe-West Monroe, immediate past chair.

New directors are Leslie Brewer , Destrehan Plantation, Kristen Preau , Jambalaya Girl; Jay Artigues , Southeastern Louisiana University Athletics; and Georgia Craven , Toledo Bend Lake Country.

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Second drone in as many days shot down near Moscow as Russia and Ukraine exchange attacks on capitals

Ukrainian officials earlier warned russia would step up aerial offensive during winter, article bookmarked.

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Russia and Ukraine sent drones targeting each other’s capital cities over the weekend in signs of renewed intensity for their aerial warfare .

Drones were shot down on both Saturday and Sunday in areas around Kyiv and Moscow . Air defence systems for both sides intercepted attacks and no casualties were reported.

Multiple drones that were heading for Moscow and Russia’s border areas on Sunday were downed by Russian air defence systems over the weekend, officials said.

Kyiv has promised to wage a major drone campaign against Russia this winter , as bad weather conditions make it difficult to conduct operations on the ground.

Russian air defence units in Moscow intercepted a drone targeting the Russian capital, mayor Sergei Sobhyanin said on Telegram.

He said defence units in the Elektrostal district in the capital’s east intercepted the drone. Falling debris resulting from the operation had caused no damage or casualties, the mayor said, citing preliminary information.

Russia’s defence ministry confirmed the drone strike on Sunday night, as is typical describing the Ukrainian military operation as a “terrorist attack”.

“On 19 November at 23.20 Moscow time, an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack using an aircraft-type UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] on targets in Moscow and the Moscow region was stopped,” it said on its official Telegram channel.

“Duty air defence systems intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle over the territory of the Moscow region.”

A second drone targeting Moscow was also intercepted by Russia’s air defence systems at around 1am.

The UAV was destroyed over the territory of the Bogorodsky district in Moscow, it said.

This comes after Russian authorities on Saturday said they shot down a Ukrainian drone heading for the border region of Bryansk.

The defence ministry said on-duty air defence systems destroyed the drone over Bryansk. It did not mention any casualties or damage from the attack.

Russia has also begun targeting Kyiv again after a 52-day break in air raid sirens for the Ukrainian capital.

On Saturday, Ukrainian officials said all drones heading towards Kyiv were destroyed but some hit infrastructure facilities elsewhere in Ukraine.

A day later, a wave of Iranian-made Shahed drones from Russia targeted Kyiv overnight.

The drones targeted the Ukrainian capital and the Cherkasy and Poltava regions, according to a military statement. Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems shot down 15 of 20 drones targeting the areas.

Serhii Popko, the city’s military administration spokesperson, said the drones attacked Kyiv from different directions in waves that were “constantly changing vectors”.

Ukrainian officials had warned Russia would step up aerial assaults during the winter months.

Meanwhile, the British defence ministry said there were “few immediate prospects” for major change along the Ukrainian frontline as the war enters its second winter.

In a statement, it said intense fighting was concentrated near Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region, Avdiivka in Dontesk and on the left bank of the Dnipro river, where Ukrainian forces have established a bridgehead.

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Mayor claims drone intercepted near Moscow

Russian air defense units allegedly intercepted a drone over the city of Elektrostal in Moscow Oblast, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin reported in a Telegram post on Nov. 19.

Sobyanin claims the drone was heading towards central Moscow.

The Mayor also said emergency services were at work at the crash site but no casualties or damage to infrastructure have been reported.

The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify the reports.

Since the launch of Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukrainian forces have targeted Russian military, logistics, and infrastructure sites in the occupied territories and within Russia.

Today's drone report comes just hours after Ukraine's alleged drone attack was intercepted over the Bogorodskoye municipal district in Moscow Oblast.

While claims of Ukrainian attacks within Russian territory have increased since summer 2023, Kyiv rarely comments on these reports.

Read also: Ukraine war latest: Zelensky replaces Medical Forces Commander

We’ve been working hard to bring you independent, locally-sourced news from Ukraine. Consider supporting the Kyiv Independent .

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