Iceland and the Perils of Overtourism

Iceland is in the midst of a tourist boom that has seen visitation increase about 264 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Last year, nearly 1.3 million foreign tourists visited the country, and tourism has become the tiny country’s top industry. But the influx of tourists is also bringing concerns about the environment, infrastructure, housing, and the impact on residents’ quality of life.

Skift sent reporter Andrew Sheivachman to Iceland to explore how this overtourism has affected the country over the last several years. He spent nearly a week interviewing more than a dozen tourism leaders and produced a 12,000-word deep dive on the issue.

On today’s episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about how Iceland became a hot tourist spot, the tiny country’s complicated relationship with its visitors, and how the problems of overtourism can be solved.

Along with Andrew, who joins editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson, we’re hearing from some of his interviews with the people who are dealing with the tourism surge, including Grímur Sæmundsson, CEO of the Blue Lagoon spa and chairman of the Icelandic Travel Industry AssociationÓlöf Ýrr Atladóttir, director general of the Icelandic Tourist Board; Sölvi Melax, founder of the car-sharing company Cario; Skúli Mogensen, the CEO of low-cost carrier Wow Air; and Fridrik Palsson, owner of the boutique Hotel Rangá in Hella.

 

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What Online Travel Legends Say About the Future of Travel

The Skift Global Forum recently brought together some of the biggest names in online travel for rousing conversations on stage and behind the scenes.

The lineup was full of heavy hitters: Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia Inc.; Jay Walker, founder of Priceline and CEO of Upside; Brad Gerstner, founder and CEO of Altimeter Capital; and Rich Barton, founder of Expedia and current executive chairman of Zillow Group.

After talking about the past, present, and future of online travel in front of a crowd, they joined us backstage in the Skift Take Studio for an encore conversation about mobile, voice search, augmented reality, and how the industry is adapting to changing consumer behavior.

They spoke to Skift contributing writer Jeremy Kressman and editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson.

This is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

 

 

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Black Travel Has Become a Movement

The travel industry has historically been dominated by white men, but over the past few years, travel companies created by and for black Americans have thrived.

Last year brought a flurry of media coverage of the burgeoning black travel movement thanks to groups including Nomadness Travel Tribe, Travel Noire, and an active social media community. But the challenges for black travelers haven’t disappeared, and the group is still underrepresented in leadership and media.

On this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about the contemporary black travel movement in the U.S., how it’s evolved, and what the future looks like for the community.

Our guests are Evita Robinson, founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe, a travel-centric community of more than 13,000 people, and Shannon Washington, co-founder and director of Parlour Magazine, which focuses on travel and style for black women.

They join associate editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson and editorial assistant Sarah Enelow.

 

 

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How Hostels Are Trying to Move Beyond the Backpacker

Hostels have traditionally been a cheap, barebones option for backpackers and college kids exploring on a tight budget. While they have not always been known for their hipness or creativity, in recent years some companies have pioneered hostels with a focus on design, local flavor, and the kind of social buzz that attracts even non-guests.

On this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about how hostels have evolved, what’s next for the sector and whether they might finally break through in the U.S.

Our guest is Fredrik Korallus, the CEO of Generator Hostels, which describes itself as “Design Led Hostels.” The London-based company has 12 properties around Europe and plans to add its first U.S. site in Miami Beach next year.

He joins Skift podcast host Hannah Sampson and senior editor Greg Oates.

 

 

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Puerto Rico and the Fight for Caribbean Tourism

Puerto Rico has long enjoyed a reputation as an easy-to-visit tropical getaway thanks to its status as a U.S. territory. But the news has been bleaker over the last couple of years. First came the debt crisis last year, followed by this year’s spread of Zika. The U.S. declared a public health emergency in August because of the virus; nearly 20,000 people have been infected in Puerto Rico.

On today’s episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about the double whammy blow to tourism in Puerto Rico, what tourism officials have learned about coping with crisis, and how Caribbean destinations are sharing information.

Our guests are Ingrid Rivera, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, and Clarisa Jiménez, president and CEO of the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association.

They join Skift podcast host Hannah Sampson and reporter Andrew Sheivachman.

 

 

 

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Why Business Owners Struggle to Take Time Off

In this special edition of the Skift podcast, we’re taking a look at why small business owners are especially susceptible to experiencing anxiety when considering taking a vacation, as well as some potential solutions.

This podcast is sponsored advertising content produced by SkiftX for the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase, introducing new benefits that make it even easier for small business owners to take a well-deserved break. All opinions expressed are the speakers’ own.

The average number of vacation days taken by U.S. workers continues to decline — and small business owners are no different. In a recent survey, it was revealed that despite knowing the importance and benefits of completely unplugging from work, only 25 percent of small business owners are actually able to do so. And, even then, nearly three-quarters worry about the work and responsibilities they’re missing during their time off.

Joining us on the podcast are Ida Kroll and Katie Denis. Kroll is an entrepreneur, world traveler, and founder and CEO of Eventland in New York City. Denis is senior program director of Project: Time Off, a U.S. Travel initiative, which aims to shift culture so that time off is not considered frivolous, but rather essential to improving personal health as well as a business investment with proven returns.

For this episode, SkiftX branded content director Kat Townsend sits alongside Skift research director Luke Bujarski.

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Top Hotel CEOs and Executives Talk Direct Booking, Airbnb and Cuba

Hotel companies keep us busy here at Skift: If they’re not buying each other to create new hospitality giants, they’re fighting to get customers to book directly, dreaming up new brands, or figuring out how to prevent guests from turning to Airbnb.

On today’s episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about trends in hospitality — and hearing directly from some of the industry’s top leaders.

Hotel executives from all over the world were in New York recently for the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, and Skift editors Deanna Ting and Greg Oates recorded interviews on topics including efforts to encourage direct booking, the rise of the sharing economy, the opportunity that awaits in Cuba, how loyalty is evolving, and more.

Ting and Oates join Skift podcast host Hannah Sampson and interviews from Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson; Choice Hotels president and chief operating officer Pat Pacious; Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal; AccorHotels CEO of Hotel Services for North and Central America Christophe Alaux; and Red Lion Hotels CEO Greg Mount and chief franchise officer Brian Quinn. 

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What Happens When Travel Meets Politics and Global Unrest

Last year, 75 million international tourists visited the U.S., and spending by domestic and inbound visitors amounted to nearly $950 billion.

But the travel and tourism industry still has challenges, notably fears about terrorism in the wake of attacks in Paris and Brussels and the massacre in Orlando this month — which took place after the recording of this podcast.

Also potentially discouraging international travel are long security lines at airports, resistance to thevisa waiver program, and the uncertainty of a looming — and often nasty — presidential election.

On today’s episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking politics: What is the legacy of the Obama administration when it comes to travel, what hasn’t yet been accomplished, and what’s at stake for the industry as the country prepares to elect a new president?

Our guest is Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. He sat down with Skift podcast host Hannah Sampson in New York City at the site of the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, where he was a speaker.

 

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Understanding the Needs of Modern Budget Travelers

Online travel agencies make it easy to search by the lowest price. There are targeted websites like cheapair.com, cheapoair.com, insanelycheapflights.com, and eurocheapo.com to navigate. And the sharing economy lets travelers crash on couches, take over apartments, use someone else’s car, or borrow a bike.

On this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking cheap travel: Who does it, how travel companies are providing budget-friendlier options, and what travelers might give up to save some bucks.

Joining us in the Skift office are Dan Saltzstein, a travel editor at The New York Times, and Tom Meyers, founder and editor of the booking and advice site EuroCheapo.com.

They join Skift podcast host Hannah Sampson and editor Andrew Sheivachman.

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What Keeps Travel CMOs up at Night

Modern marketing in travel comes with modern difficulties: the rise of social media, new technology, shifting consumer tastes, and uncertainty over what drives the most business.

As part of our CMO interview series, Skift has been talking to chief marketing officers across the travel industry about the challenges they face in their jobs, where they get insights, what helps them make smarter decisions, and what keeps them up at night. On this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re exploring those topics — and hearing firsthand about what works for our guests. Hint: It helps if someone who lives near the city you promote makes a video that goes viral on social media.

With us this week are Rich Fontaine, CMO of small-ship expedition company Lindblad Expeditions, and Noelle LeVeaux, CMO of Visit Dallas. They join Skift podcast host Hannah Sampson and reporter Dan Peltier.

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