Toyota is Getting its Flying Car off the Ground — For a few Seconds

Yuri Kageyama  / Associated Press

Toyota has invested in Captivator, and its flying car model hovers on a former school ground in Toyota, central Japan, June 3, 2017. Yuri Kageyama / Associated Press

Skift Take: We’re unimpressed with flying cars to date. Ping us when they make them driverless.

— Dennis Schaal

Toyota Motor Corp. is working on a “flying car.”

A startup backed by the Japanese automaker has developed a test model that engineers hope will eventually develop into a tiny car with a driver who’ll be able to light the Olympic torch in the 2020 Tokyo games. For now, however, the project is a concoction of aluminum framing and eight propellers that barely gets off the ground and crashes after several seconds.

Toyota has invested 42.5 million yen ($386,000) in startup Cartivator Resource Management to work on “Sky Drive .” At a test flight Saturday in the city where the automaker is based, the gadgetry, about the size of a car and loaded with batteries and sensors, blew up a lot of sand and made a lot of noise.

It managed to get up as high as eye level for several seconds before tilting and falling to the ground. Basketballs attached to its bottom served as cushions. After several attempts, the endeavor had to be canceled after one of the covers got detached from the frame and broke, damaging the propellers.

The goal of Cartivator’s is to deliver a seamless transition from driving to flight, like the world of “Back to the Future,” said the project’s leader Tsubasa Nakamura.

“I always loved planes and cars. And my longtime dream was to have a personal vehicle that can fly and go many places,” he told The Associated Press.

The group is now working on a better design with the money from Toyota with the plan to have the first manned flight in 2019. No one has ridden on Sky Drive yet, or any drone, as that would be too dangerous.

Still, dabbling in businesses other than cars is Toyota’s trademark. In recent years, it has been aggressively venturing into robotics and artificial intelligence, investing a billion dollars in a research and development company in Silicon Valley. It’s also working in Japan on using robotics to help the sick walk. It also just announced a five-year $35 million investment in its research center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.

The idea that each generation must take up challenges is part of Toyota’s roots, said auto analyst Takaki Nakanishi.

President Akio Toyoda’s great-grandfather Sakichi Toyoda started out developing the loom and then its automated improvements from the 1890s, before the company became an automaker. More recently, Toyota sees software and services as central to the auto industry, as cars become connected, start driving themselves and turn into lifestyle digital tools, Nakanishi said.

As Toyota gets into the business of ecological vehicles, such as hybrids, electric cars and fuel cells, it’s turning into an energy company as well.

“Toyota’s business is centered on mobility, anything that moves, including people, things, money, information, energy,” said Nakanishi.

Toyota is traveling not only in the skies but also to the waters, although that still remains a tiny part of its sprawling empire.

Toyota’s boat operations began in 1997. Toyota now offers four models and has sold a cumulative 845 boats. In contrast, Toyota sells about 10 million vehicles a year around the world.

Reporters recently got a ride in Tokyo Bay of a Lexus luxury concept “yacht,” which runs on two gas engines. With a streamlined curvaceous design, inspired by a dolphin and evocative of a Lexus car, it’s being promised as a commercial product in the next few years.

Designed for executives zipping through resort waters, it comes with fantasy-evoking features, like an anchor pulled in by a chain into a tiny door in the bow, which opens then closes mechanically.

The engine, shiny like a chrome sculpture, is visible beneath the sheer floor surface. Shigeki Tomoyama, the executive in charge, said the boat was going for “a liberating effect.” A price was not given. Many Americans have already expressed interest, according to Toyota.

The project started about two years ago under direct orders from Toyoda, who has with Tomoyama spearheaded Toyota’s Gazoo internet business, another non-auto business for Toyota.

“He asked us to create a space that can work as a secret hiding place in the middle of the ocean,” Tomoyama said. “We went for the wow factor, which requires no words.”

Copyright (2017) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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British Airways Passengers Face More Flight Cancellations if Cabin Crews Strike

Matthew Lloyd  / Bloomberg

Some British Airways flights could be grounded again if its cabin crews make good on a threat to strike. Matthew Lloyd / Bloomberg

Skift Take: British Airways would be smart to drop its insistence on removing travel benefits for flight crews who participated in prior job actions. There’s a tentative agreement in place over salaries so the punitive measures seem vindictive.

— Dennis Schaal

British Airways flight attendants are threatening a strike, just days after a computer failure disrupted travel for more than 75,000 passengers and put the carrier’s cost cuts under scrutiny.

Members of the Unite union plan to walk out from June 16 through June 19 after the airline suspended travel benefits for flight attendants who participated in 26 days of strikes over pay earlier this year. The airline and Unite subsequently reached an agreement over salaries, but the union hasn’t presented the deal to members because of the dispute over the travel benefits.

“Punishing staff for using legitimate industrial means to reach a wage deal is a culture that Unite cannot accept and a culture that will ultimately damage the BA brand,” Unite assistant secretary general Howard Beckett said in an emailed statement. He cited the airline’s “persistent refusal” to hand back free flight benefits to workers.

A spokeswoman for the airline, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, urged Unite to present the agreement to its members. “We had reached a deal on pay,” she said by email. “Strike action is completely unnecessary.” The union said the strike won’t prevent travelers from reaching their destinations.

British Airways grounded flights last weekend because of a hardware failure that could cost the carrier as much as 100 million euros (about $110 million). The chaos sparked a furor in Britain over the carrier’s restructuring. British Airways Chief Executive Officer Alex Cruz, who took over in April of last year, has reduced costs in part by outsourcing software engineering to foreign companies.

The GMB union separately on Friday called on British Airways to halt plans to outsource another 600 information-technology staffers. The union also demanded participation in an independent probe into the incident.


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Amsterdam’s Overtourism and 13 Other Tourism Trends This Week

Vondelpark / I Amsterdam

The Vondelpark in Amsterdam. The city is trying to cope with increasing numbers of visitors. Vondelpark / I Amsterdam

Skift Take: These are the tourism trends we were talking about this week.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines tourism.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>It won’t surprise anyone that Asian travel is a big theme. But this presentation covers a few changes in consumer behaviors that travel brands ignore at their peril: Video: Changing Behavior of Asian Travelers Is Reshaping Brand Expectations

>>Will a no-Boomers-allowed policy, youth-focused design, and tailored shore excursions be enough to convince millennials that river cruising is the way to experience Europe? The CEO of U by Uniworld thinks so — and she only has to win over 120 passengers at a time: Millennial-Only River Cruising From Uniworld Will Start Sailing in 2018

>>The results of this study seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised to see how this is part of an evolving conversation about the true importance of face-to-face meetings and events: Smart CMOs Are Seeing the Value of In-Person Brand Experiences and Events

>>Females are considered the primary purchasers in travel, but a more holistic view of the luxury sectors suggests that men are an equally, if not more, important target for marketers: Men Are Spending More in the Luxury Sector Than Women, Research Shows

>>For now, the industry’s biggest task it to make sure that Millennials don’t completely disengage and abandon loyalty altogether: The Business of Loyalty: The Millennial Problem

>>Thomas Cook has hit the ground running in China but it’s not running away from its core business in Europe. The group doesn’t want to be too aggressive in China before it’s made more of a name for itself in the market and sees how consumers respond: Thomas Cook Is Cautiously Optimistic About its China Business

>>The next generation of conferences is evolving as multidisciplinary, experiential marketing platforms to better personalize the learning and networking options for attendees. They’re also a hell of a lot more fun: The Future of Personalizing Conferences for Maximum Impact — Meetings Innovation Report

>>London’s political associations with Europe may be changing but its cultural appeal remains strong to many travelers. It’s using its nighttime economy to help drive economic growth in the post-Brexit era as it builds out more infrastructure to accommodate the city’s nightlife: Video: London Tourism Leaders Say Brexit Won’t Kill City’s European Partnerships

>>Cities across Europe are wising up to the potential problem of too many tourists. Those tasked with marketing an “at risk” destination are going to have to work harder to spread tourism over a wider area in order to dilute the potential negative impact: Amsterdam, Airbnb and the Very Real Problem of Overtourism

>>Supervisors who don’t send women on business trips, in a misguided effort to avoid dealing with women’s safety issues, are doing their companies a disservice by suppressing that talent. Companies that tackle that duty of care head-on are playing with a full deck: Female Business Travelers Demand Equality From Their Employers

>>Will Americans’ rediscovery of Cuba be curtailed before it really takes off? There are already enough uncertainties about visiting the island with the embargo, tight hotel supply, and limited infrastructure on the ground. Adding more red tape could have a big impact: Cuba Travel for Americans Could Be At Risk as Trump Mulls Options

>>Companies need to be aware of the concerns and needs of female travelers and empower them to do their jobs safely on the road: Women Want Safe Business Travel — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report

>>MSC Cruises continues to show its ambition as it plans to add more ships to an already fast-growing fleet. Now the question is whether demand can keep up with all that supply: MSC Cruises Is Building Ships That Will Break Passenger Records

>>Compared with other U.S. sectors, the travel industry would be disproportionately impacted should U.S.-Cuba relations and travel policies get reversed. It’s anyone’s guess as to how President Trump will proceed regarding Cuba policies but that picture should become clearer later this month: U.S. Airlines and Cruise Lines Could Lose $3.5 Billion if Trump Reverses Cuba Policies

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Measuring Trump’s Tourism Impact — A Slight Drag or More Impactful?

Lien T.  / Empire State Building

Tourists and an Empire State Building employee at the iconic tourist attraction in Manhattan. The writer argues that the Trump administration has only marginally impacted tourism to the U.S. Lien T. / Empire State Building

Skift Take: The writer uses a straw-man argument. No one is arguing that Trump’s impact on U.S. tourism compares to that of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Still, the adverse impact may not be as great as a company such as Foursquare suggests.

— Dennis Schaal

People in the travel business have been warning that the Donald Trump administration’s isolationist rhetoric and tougher border controls — as evidenced by the just-unveiled State Department questionnaire that asks visa applicants for 15 years of biographical information and their social media handles for the past five years  — are going to discourage foreign travelers from coming to the U.S.

Some have even put forward evidence that this is already happening. Mobile app Foursquare, for example, reported last week that, among its users:

The share of international tourism to leisure locations in America has been steadily declining since October 2016, after small YoY growth in August and September. Over the full October 2016 to March 2017 timeframe, there was an average decrease of 11% YoY.

ForwardKeys, a travel data provider, reported Thursday that summer bookings for travel to the U.S. are down 3.5 percent over last year — while bookings are up for all other major destinations.

So I was curious whether the jobs data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed any indication yet of an employment slowdown brought on by this newfound unpopularity of the U.S. I figured “accommodation” would be the likeliest industry category to be hit. It hasn’t been … yet.

Employment growth in accommodation did stall last year — perhaps an indication of the impact of Airbnb, whose self-employed hosts don’t show up in the payroll data — but the past few months actually saw a modest return to growth.

Another place to look is the consumer spending data released Monday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which breaks out spending by foreign travelers in the U.S.

That does seem to show a slowdown since last fall, although not much of one. All of these numbers, especially the spending ones, are subject to revision as more data comes in. And in general, we’ll know a lot more in a few months. Still, there is no sign yet of the kind of dramatic falloff in travel to the U.S. that followed Sept. 11 or the 2008 financial crisis. There may be a negative Trump effect on tourism to the U.S., but at this point it seems more likely to be a modest drag than an anvil to the head.

Also apparent, though, is that travel — and foreign travel — really does matter to the U.S. economy. Those 1.96 million people working in accommodation in May dwarfed the 655,000 employed in what seems to be the current administration’s favorite industry: mining and oil and gas extraction.

The lodging jobs don’t pay nearly as well ($14.31 to $28.31 an hour for production and nonsupervisory employees), and mining and drilling for oil and gas creates employment in other industries such as refining, plastics and metals manufacturing. But the $219 billion that foreigners spent in the U.S. last year on travel, education and medical services isn’t far off the $265 billion gross domestic product contribution of mining and oil and gas.

Tourism matters. We may find out over the next few years just how much it matters.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Justin Fox is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the editorial director of Harvard Business Review and wrote for Time, Fortune and American Banker. He is the author of “The Myth of the Rational Market.”

  1. It consists mainly of hotels and motels but also includes bed-and-breakfasts, RV parks, campgrounds and rooming houses.

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Trivago’s Non-Acquisition Strategy and 5 Other Digital Trends This Week


Trivago CFO Axel Hefer thinks huge acquisitions would be too much of a distraction for the company at this juncture. Trivago

Skift Take: These are the digital trends we were talking about this week.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines digital trends.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>Mondee, a travel technology company in California, paid $2.89 million for the domain name, according to our sources. But the story behind this secretive company is also a broader tale about private equity, ethnic travel, and how airlines distribute their lowest-priced tickets: Buyers Reluctantly Identified as Owners of Airfare Wholesaler Mondee

>>If you think metasearch revolutionized the act of shopping for travel, wait until these sites truly harness all the data out there: 5 Takeaways on the Future of Travel Search and Booking

>>Trivago is hotel-only and is focused on growing its own brand without the headaches of trying to figure out what to do with an additional brand. Trivago isn’t talking about it, but would gladly leave it to Kayak to try to determine what to do with multiple brands such as Momondo and Cheapflights: Don’t Look for Trivago to Jump on the Metasearch Buying Spree

>>For years, Airbnb,, Expedia’s HomeAway, and TripAdvisor have been scrambling for market share in vacation rentals to drive consolidation. But TripAdvisor says it is now focused on “quality” listings, rather than quantity: Vacation Rentals Are a Bright Spot at TripAdvisor

>>About 32 million people attend at least one festival in the U.S. each year, traveling an average of 900 miles to attend one. Everfest has a promising model to profit off this trade: Online Festivals Hub Everfest Raises $3.6 Million: Travel Startup Funding This Week

>>Kayak’s new ad blitz isn’t the world’s most political ad campaign but it is still good to see a company unafraid of standing up for what it believes in: New Kayak Ad Campaign Wants to Bring Europeans Forward, Not Backwards


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Visit Florida Would Maintain Current Funding Under Tentative Agreement

J.Byerly  / Flickr

Visit Florida’s funding could be saved next week. Pictured are tourists walking along the boardwalk in Hollywood, Florida. J.Byerly / Flickr

Skift Take: After a long, drawn-out political process, Visit Florida’s chances of maintaining its current funding level look decent. The debate helped spawn conversations among stakeholders at many other tourism boards about their own budgets and operations. Hopefully, everyone learned something.

— Dan Peltier

There’s a budget agreement to save Visit Florida’s funding but it isn’t a done deal yet.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron announced on Friday that they have agreed to fund Visit Florida at its current $76 million level for fiscal 2018.

The catch, though, is that all three must also convince Florida lawmakers in a special session next week to vote to maintain the organization’s funding level.

If lawmakers vote during the special session, which is scheduled for June 7 to 9, to keep Visit Florida’s funding at $76 million it would save the tourism organization from a 67 percent funding cut next year that would cap its funding at $25 million. Both chambers of the state legislature approved that big budget cut last month.

The deal announcement, which took place at a press conference at Miami International Airport on June 2, comes after four months of political battles over Visit Florida’s funding between the Republican governor and fellow Republican Corcoran. It’s been six months since the tourism board’s faced a ton of criticism over its prior contract with with Miami rapper Pitball.

Visit Florida’s rescue is not a done deal — and tourism boards across the country are closely following the deliberations.

The state House and Senate must once again vote on the fate of the funding. But the fact that the Republican leaders of both chambers have reached a deal — after Corcoran staunchly opposed increasing Visit Florida’s budget or even keeping it at the current level — is a strong indication of how the legislators might vote.

Negron said next week lawmakers will vote on a proposal to keep Visit Florida’s funding at $76 million. “It’s my understanding that with regard to the budget there is a pathway forward for consideration of an agreement that would increase funds for Visit Florida…” said Negron on Friday at the press conference. “Those proposals have not yet emerged. I haven’t seen them. Those proposals will have to be filed by specific legislators and to be considered by committees, by the entire House and Senate.”

The Miami Herald reported on Friday that the three men reached a compromise when Scott agreed to veto more than $300 million in member projects from the $82.4 billion state budget that the House and Senate passed last month.

Scott had originally called for Visit Florida to receive $100 million next year but that amount was rejected by lawmakers.

Adoption of Visit Florida’s funding at around $76 million isn’t guaranteed but seems likely, according to Negron. “The governor has called us into special session and we will be there and consider any proposals that emerge during that special session,” said Negron.

But, if Scott, Corcoran and Negron now agree on keeping Visit Florida’s funding at its current $76 million, where was that support during the legislative session?

Scott said he had been having conversations with Corcoran and Negron for months and feels this process was necessary. “I appreciate the fact that people fight for what they believe in and I think often what happens at the end of that discussion is that you end up with a good product,” Scott said during the press conference.

Visit Florida’s funding has been a concern for many destination marketers both within and outside Florida in recent months. “I think this will now put pressure on the other 49 states to go back and reassess how they’re doing their economic development,” Corcoran said.

A final vote on Visit Florida’s funding is expected by June 9.


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New Long-Haul Budget Airline Level Targets Weakened Alitalia


International Airlines Group’s new long-haul, low-cost carrier Level launched flights from Barcelona June 1, with an initial Airbus A330-operated service to Los Angeles. IAG

Skift Take: We’re undecided about whether International Airlines Group will show resolve with Level to build a a long-haul, low-cost carrier over the long term. But in the meantime, it may pose a real challenge to struggling Alitalia.

— Sean O’Neill

Level, the new budget airline from IAG SA, may start flying across the Atlantic from Rome in the latest bid by a low-cost carrier to capitalize on Alitalia SpA’s insolvency.

Level, which will lift its fleet of two Airbus SE A330 jets to five in 2018, will initially focus its expansion on Italy and France, IAG Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh told reporters ahead of Level’s inaugural flight on Thursday. Rival Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA this week said it’s adding U.S. routes from Rome as bankruptcy proceedings force Alitalia to scale back.

“It’s clear that there is very strong demand in Rome, and even with the entry of Norwegian we believe there is a market there for Level,” Walsh said. Sales at Level, whose first service from Barcelona to Los Angeles began today, have been “well ahead of our expectations.”

IAG, which also owns British Airways and Iberia, has accelerated plans for its new Level offering as Europe’s biggest carriers respond to the emerging no-frills challenge led by Norwegian. By starting its routes a year earlier than planned, Level has beaten the Nordic brand to be the first to offer ultra cheap trans-Atlantic tickets, priced as low as 99 euros ($111), from the Spanish hub.

In addition to Rome, Level is considering new bases in Milan and Paris and will operate a codeshare agreement with British Airways’ joint-venture partner American Airlines Group Inc. on its U.S.-Barcelona routes. IAG also plans to expand the Italian network of its subsidiary Vueling in the wake of Alitalia’s administration, Walsh said.

“It would be sad if Alitalia disappears, but if it does it would be because it did not change to reflect the demands of the market,” Walsh said. “Airlines that don’t do what the market wants don’t deserve to be in business.”

Norwegian is set to start flying from Barcelona to the U.S. later this month as well as deploy Boeing Co. 737 Max jets on similar routes from the U.K. and Ireland. The Oslo-based carrier on Wednesday detailed plans to add services from Rome Fiumicino Airport to Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; and Oakland, California.

The airline is also studying options to begin operations at three airports in Germany, where the flailing Air Berlin Plc is in restructuring. Other destinations in Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic are under consideration as well, Norwegian’s Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Ramdahl said in an interview.

The expansion of the likes of Level and Norwegian into discount, long-haul flights is accelerating pressure on Europe’s legacy airlines which have already rapidly lost ground on intra-European routes to discount giants Ryanair Holdings Plc and EasyJet Plc. Air-France KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG are working to start similar long-haul operations to compete despite opposition from unions.

Ryanair has written to the Italian government offering to replace short-haul routes that are vacated by Alitalia during administration. The Irish discounter is also seeking to establish a feeder arrangement with the carrier that would allow its passengers to connect with Alitalia’s long-haul flights should it survive bankruptcy.

–With assistance from Justin Bachman

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Trump Takes Travel Ban to Supreme Court for Reinstatement

Jon Elswick  / Associated Press

In this February 3, 2016, photo, people stand on the steps of the Supreme Court at sunset in Washington. The Trump administration made a plea to the Supreme Court on June 1, 2017, to let travel ban take effect. Jon Elswick / Associated Press

Skift Take: This move to take the travel ban to the Supreme Court for possible reinstatement was totally expected. We expect the Supreme Court to reject it on Constitutional grounds like the lower courts have unless the high court proves to be more political than its lower court peers.

— Dennis Schaal

The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to immediately reinstate its ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, saying the U.S. will be safer if the policy is put in place.

The Justice Department filing to the high court late Thursday argued that the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, made several mistakes in ruling against the Trump travel policy.

Immigration officials would have 90 days to decide what changes are necessary before people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may resume applying for visas. It takes a majority of the court, at least five justices, to put the policy into effect.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the national security concerns an after-the-fact justification for a policy that was “rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.” The appeals court ruled against reinstating the travel policy by a 10-3 vote last week.

The Justice Department is “confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism,” spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said. “The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

The administration also wants to be able to suspend the refugee program for 120 days, a separate aspect of the policy that has been blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii and is now being considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Trump signed his first executive order on travel a week after he took office in January. It applied to travelers from the six countries as well as Iraq and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic at airports as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out who the order covered and how it was to be implemented.

A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 9th Circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it would revise the policy.

In March, Trump issued a narrower order, but federal courts that have examined it so far have blocked it as well.

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U.S. Airlines and Cruise Lines Could Lose $3.5 Billion if Trump Reverses Cuba Policies

Howard Ignatius  / Flickr

The U.S. stands to lose billions of dollars and thousands of jobs should President Trump roll back Cuba travel policies. Pictured are tourists in Havana, Cuba. Howard Ignatius / Flickr

Skift Take: Compared with other U.S. sectors, the travel industry would be disproportionately impacted should U.S.-Cuba relations and travel policies get reversed. It’s anyone’s guess as to how President Trump will proceed regarding Cuba policies but that picture should become clearer later this month.

— Dan Peltier

If President Donald Trump follows through and rolls back U.S. policies toward travel to Cuba, U.S.-based airlines and cruise lines could lose an estimated $3.5 billion and more than 10,000 jobs through 2021, according to a new study.

Engage Cuba, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to end travel restrictions and the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, analyzed the potential impact of a Trump Cuba reset following a liberalization of policies under former President Barack Obama.

The analysis assumes a scenario in which the Trump administration reverses all agreements signed with Cuba since December 17, 2014, including legalized travel, a more welcoming policy toward Cuban refugees known as “wet foot, dry foot,” and general licenses for certain exports and research collaboration.

Estimates reflect potential job and economic impact losses after the four years of President Trump’s first term, which would end in January 2021.

Engage Cuba’s analysis didn’t examine how many U.S. jobs have actually been generated since the U.S. and Cuba began to normalize relations on December 2014, or the total economic impact since then. Instead, the study focuses on the number of jobs and amount of money that various industries, including travel, could lose if the U.S. reinstates travel restrictions for Americans who want to go to Cuba.

Americans aren’t permitted to visit the island as tourists but must go under one of a dozen approved categories.

Seven U.S. airlines such as American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue and five cruise lines including Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean were part of the analysis.

Hotels were not considered in the analysis. Marriott International’s Starwood is the only U.S. hotel company to manage a property in Cuba with at least three more properties in the pipeline.

The estimates, however, could be less severe depending on what — or if — the president decides to reverse regarding policies toward Cuba.

U.S. airlines could lose nearly $512,000 each year or $2 billion and nearly 4,000 jobs through 2021, the study found, and cruise lines could lose more than $1.5 billion and more than 6,000 jobs over that span.

Those estimates consider U.S. airline and cruise employees who have already been hired because of new services to Cuba and also the number of employees that airlines and cruise lines potentially wouldn’t hire over the next four years if they had to cut back or cease their Cuba operations.

Rolling back liberalized U.S.-Cuba policies would add job-killing government regulations on U.S. businesses, said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba. “This directly conflicts with President Trump’s campaign promises of removing onerous regulations and red tape on U.S. businesses,” he said, in a statement.

Engage Cuba’s study also cites data from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that found eliminating cruises to Cuba could adversely impact south Florida’s economy by $212.8.

The study also found the overall U.S. economy stands to lose some $6.6 billion and nearly 12,300 U.S. jobs through 2021 if U.S.-Cuba travel policies are reversed.

That means that 53 percent of total lost economic impact and 81 percent of the potential job losses would come from the travel industry.

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MSC Cruises Is Building Ships That Will Break Passenger Records

MSC Cruises

Ships belonging to the World Class from MSC Cruises will be able to hold more passengers than any other cruise ship. A rendering is shown in this image. MSC Cruises

Skift Take: MSC Cruises continues to show its ambition as it plans to add more ships to an already fast-growing fleet. Now the question is whether demand can keep up with all that supply.

— Hannah Sampson

European cruise line MSC Cruises announced this week that it is extending its growth spurt. The operator has ordered four new ships that would break a long-held record in the industry: the number of passengers on board.

The privately held company is calling the new type of ship the “World Class,” and said the vessels will include 2,760 staterooms and a maximum occupancy of 6,850 passengers with every available bed filled. That number edges out Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class ships, which the company says can hold 6,780 passengers at maximum capacity.

MSC’s World Class ships, which are being built by STX France, are due to be delivered in 2022 and 2024. The company has options to purchase another two for arrival in 2025 and 2026.

Royal Caribbean International has been able to claim the world’s largest cruise ship title since Oasis of the Seas was delivered in 2009. Cruise lines typically consider a ship 100 percent full if two people occupy each stateroom, and that number is the capacity they use as a standard. For Oasis of the Seas, the double occupancy number was 5,400; Royal Caribbean says on a fact sheet that it can hold a maximum of 6,780.

The new MSC ships may in fact edge out the double occupancy numbers of the Oasis-class ships; two people each in 2,760 staterooms would amount to 5,520 passengers, though the company said that metric is not available yet. But the maximum occupancy of the World Class ships would be 6,850 with every available bed filled.

Royal Caribbean will still have the world’s physically largest ships, however. The largest of the Oasis-class vessels measure about 227,000 gross registered tons and 1,188 feet long, while the World Class will be 200,000 gross registered tons and 1,083 feet long.

With the just-announced ships, MSC expects to have a fleet of 23 vessels by 2026. The operator has 11 ships on order between now and then, including MSC Meraviglia, which was delivered this week.

With headquarters in Switzerland, MSC sails predominately in Europe but also has a significant presence in South America and South Africa. It has been making a bigger push in North America in recent years and will bring a new ship, MSC Seaside, to Miami in December.

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

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