U.S. Visitor Visa Demands Are Still Overwhelming



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Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at U.S. visa wait times, Dolly Parton’s new hotel, and a Canadian airline team-up.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, November 29. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Lengthy waits for visitor visas have hurt the U.S. tourism recovery. The problem isn’t expected to die down in 2024 — especially in Colombia, Mexico and India, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.

U.S. State Department representatives said demand for visas reached record highs in those three countries. Previously, the visa backlog had been driven by pent-up demand and staffing shortages at multiple U.S. embassies. Both resulted from the pandemic.

Julie Stufft, deputy assistant secretary for visa services, said agencies now need to contend with strong demand that goes beyond the Covid hangover. 

Lengthy U.S. visitor visa waits will cost the U.S. travel industry roughly $12 billion in lost traveler spending this year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. 

Next, Dolly Parton has been in the news recently, thanks to a recently released album and a new book. Parton and her partner company have also opened a new independent hotel, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill. 

Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge & Resort is the latest collaboration between Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment. O’Neill writes they run hotels on their own, without having to rely on a major global brand or a third-party management. Parton and Herschend also finance their projects through their own capital and bank loans, rather than take the more common path of getting multiple investors.

Finally, Canadian carriers Air Transat and Porter Airlines are planning a joint venture that would enable them to grab a larger market share, reports Edward Russell, editor of Skift publication Airline Weekly. 

The newly unveiled pact would allow Porter and Transat to coordinate routes, schedules and fares across their networks. The two companies would essentially be able to merge their respective operations without the cost or challenges of actually combining. Russell adds Porter and Transat would be able to better compete with Air Canada, which dominates the Canadian market. 



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