Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at the optimism of a leading travel agency, the digital nomad edge of a destination and a retreating London airport.
Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, October 5. Here’s what you need to know about the travel business today.
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American Express Travel is sending a strong signal of the next phase of the travel recovery. The leisure travel business that manages vacations for cardholders, which will become the sixth-largest U.S. travel agency in 2021, says it is seeing travelers book trips farther into the future, a sign of confidence that has faded during the pandemic, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.
American Express Travel reported about $5 billion in sales last year, about 70 percent of its 2019 numbers. But parent company American Express reported that total travel and entertainment spending by cardholders it finally surpassed pre-pandemic levels in April of this year. Audrey Hendley, the president of American Express Travel, said the company has seen an increase in advanced bookings, noting that bookings longer than 120 days are up 40 percent for American card members this year, compared to 2019.
Next, a growing number of destinations aim to convince short-term visitors to stay longer as digital nomads. Costa Rica is one of them, and the global tourism reporter Dawit
Habtemariam delves into the country’s strategy to turn tourists into digital nomads.
Costa Rican officials admitted they were slow to recognize the lucrative market. But the country in July created a visa category for digital nomads, which its tourism executives believe allows it to gather critical data for its marketing strategies. Carolina Trejos, director of marketing for Costa Rica’s Tourism Board, said its digital nomad visa holders are largely repeat visitors to the country.
In addition, Costa Rican authorities are targeting remote workers from the United States. Tourism Minister William Rodriguez said attracting even a small percentage of remote American workers would represent a success for Costa Rica.
Flying into London Heathrow Airport will finally get easier for airlines from next month after a chaotic summer that has turned the airport into a nightmare for airlines and travellers. Europe’s busiest airport is doing away with daily passenger limits, a development that gives airlines clarity about their schedule planning, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.
Heathrow Airport will allow current rules limiting the number of passengers at the facility to expire at the end of October, Russell writes. Carriers such as Emirates have spoken out against the passenger limits Heathrow implemented in July as it faces labor shortages. Russell adds that airlines will be able to avoid the disruptive and costly last-minute schedule changes that marked the chaotic summer at the airport.
Airlines will be able to operate an average of approximately 40 departures and 39 arrivals per hour at Heathrow from October 30 to March 25.