PRESSR: Dubai International Boat Show announces long-term partnership with host venue Dubai Harbor

Dubai, UAE – The Dubai International Boat Show is extending its long-term partnership with host venue Dubai Harbor to accelerate the global yachting community’s international growth missions in the world’s most sought-after marine leisure tourism hub.

The agreement provides Dubai International Boat Show with a dedicated infrastructure and location in Dubai Harbour in the immediate and foreseeable future, offering generous opportunities for expansion.

After four days of palpable buzz, excitement, energy, buoyant boat sales, and curiosity from around the world this week in its 30th edition, securing a long-term home for the largest boat show in the Middle East, Africa and Asia will fast-track the unstoppable momentum of Dubai as one of the world’s most attractive yachting destinations.

“Dubai represents the new world and a new era in leisure yachting,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Executive Vice President at Dubai World Trade Centre, organiser of Dubai International Boat Show.

“Everyone speaks of the soaring energy in the city and in the boat show. We’ve been called many times this week as the most beautiful boat show in the world. It’s easy when the Dubai Boat Show is set in a world class marina against the most glorious skyline of any yachting destinations.

“Dubai Boat Show and our host venue Dubai Harbour are committed to accelerate this unstoppable momentum of partnership with our international community, to build the next most outstanding and sought-after yachting hub in the world.  We are proud to secure a long-term home for Dubai Boat Show here at Dubai Harbour. This shall give investors the confidence and trust to fast forward their long-term development plans in the region.”

His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Hareb, Senior Advisor of the Dubai International Boat Show and Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council said: “Dubai Harbour is a fitting venue for a city that is increasingly making its mark in the global maritime space.

“The continued collaboration of Dubai International Boat Show and Dubai Harbour is great for the international yachting community, inspiring confidence to grow boldly with energy and enthusiasm.

“Having been part of the show since its inception, it is incredible to see its growth and dedication to uniting the entire maritime industry – I’m greatly looking forward to seeing how the show will continue to develop in 2025, and beyond,” His Excellency added.

A vibrant waterfront community befitting of a world-class global boat show

Abdulla Binhabtoor, Chief Portfolio Management Officer at Shamal Holding, the owner and curator of Dubai Harbour, said: “The Dubai International Boat Show is not only the biggest marine show in the region it has grown to become a major catalyst to the wider advancement of the maritime industry and a testament to Dubai’s growing status as one of the world’s maritime hubs.

“As host venue for the third year, we greatly value the partnership between the Dubai World Trade Centre and Dubai International Boat Show, as well as the support of our partners and stakeholders as Dubai Harbour continues to grow and evolve as a seafront destination for residents and tourists.

“As the region’s largest marina located right the heart of Dubai we consider Dubai Harbour the natural home for the Dubai International Boat Show and we are committed to continuing to strengthen our partnership, contributing to Dubai’s thriving leisure maritime sector for many years to come,” added Binhabtoor.

Long-standing partners laud partnership as pivotal for continued growth

The Dubai International Boat Show’s partnership with Dubai Harbour was greeted with enthusiasm by long-standing local and global partners, exhibitors, shipyards and yacht brokers, all of whom have positioned Dubai as the focal point of long-term business growth.

Abeer Al Shaali, Deputy Managing Director at Gulf Craft, a UAE-based yacht manufacturer that has participated at the Dubai International Boat Show since its inaugural show in 1992, said: “We love that the Dubai International Boat Show is continuing its strong partnership with Dubai Harbour.

“This event has been growing and welcoming more and more visitors every year, and the world-class infrastructure at Dubai Harbour, with its iconic landscape, will allow for continued growth and space to welcome even more visitors, boats, clients, suppliers, and international organisations in the maritime industry from across the world.”

New engaging format in 2025

The 31st Dubai International Boat Show will return to Dubai Harbour in February 2025, promising a new concept manifesting innovative and creative formats with higher international participation that captures the energy of one of the world’s most influential yachting events.

About Dubai International Boat Show

Dubai International Boat Show, the most trusted and established marine industry exhibition in the Middle East, is a showcase of yachts and boats from both local and international builders, together with the latest innovations in marine equipment and accessories. The multi-award-winning show showcases the latest leisure boats, equipment, and associated services in the Middle East. Exhibitors include both local and international boat manufacturers, as well as the latest innovations in marine equipment and supplies.  www.boatshowdubai.com

DWTC

A global business facilitator since 1979, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) is home to region’s leading purpose-built convention and exhibition centre. DWTC provides a platform for connecting people, products, innovation and ideas from around the world through a dynamic calendar of international trade exhibitions and its own roster of sector leading mega events.  As a designated free zone, complemented by award-winning commercial real estate, DWTC plays an integral role in Dubai and the region’s growth story with an estimated total economic output of AED 200 Billion, attracting over 30 Million business visitors to Dubai over the past four decades.

Source Trading View

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Exciting news for all those who want to take self-sponsored pilot training! Ethiopian Aviation University is thrilled to announce a special promotion for aspiring pilots like you! For a limited time, we’re offering a 10% discount on our self-sponsored pilot training programs. E.A.U seeks competent, self-sponsored pilot trainees who meet the qualifications outlined below. Education Qualification: 12th grade completion certificate with commendable performance in Mathematics, English and Physics Age :18 and above English: Level 4 Height: 1 meter and 62 cm and above Medical class 1 Medical License Training Duration: 1 Year and 3 months 📞 Contact Information: 📧 Email: etauinfo@ethiopianairlines.comeaainfo@ethiopianairlines.com📞 Phone: +251-115174600/8598 🌐 Apply on https://ethiopianaviationuniversity.azurewebsites.net/admission/applyonline

Dubai announces a five-year multiple-entry visa for Indian tourists.

In light of a 34 per cent YoY growth in the number of Indian tourists the previous year, Dubai has announced a new visa plan to bolster travel relations with their now top source market- India.

While Dubai is known to be a hotspot for tourism worldwide, it is an undeniable favourite for Indian tourists looking for an international getaway.  Facts would attest, as just in the previous year Dubai welcomed 2.46 million overnight visitors from India according to the latest data from the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). The significant hike from 1.84 million tourists in 2022 and the pre-pandemic figure of 1.97 million visitors shows a humongous 25% growth. This substantial number of international visitors from the Indian market has only added to Dubai’s record-breaking tourism performance in 2023 where the city welcomed 17.15 million international overnight visitors.

The growth not only aligns with the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, launched just over a year ago by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai that promotes Dubai as one of the top cities globally for business and leisure but also promote a deeper economic and diplomatic relationship with India. Hence, to further this agenda with India as the top source market for Dubai, they introduce a Five-Year Multiple-Entry Visa for Indian tourists.  With this step, holders of the visa, issued within two to five working days of the service request, allow them to stay 90 days in the country, extendable to a total of 180 days in a year. Through this move, tourists can seamlessly engage in the city’s vast offerings with multiple entries and exits through the year encouraging flexibility for business engagements as well as leisure trips. The step increases connectivity between the two nations, fostering further collaborations and encouraging tourism. Additionally, DET is also actively participating in SATTE 2024, India’s leading trade exhibition to further promote trade relations.

“Dubai values its long-standing relationship with India, and our inbound visitation from the market in 2023 was outstanding, contributing to a record-breaking performance by our tourism sector. As a key market for Dubai, India will continue to play an integral role in enabling us to achieve the goals of the D33 Agenda, further reinforcing Dubai’s position as a hub for business, investment and tourism. The five-year multiple entry visa initiative signifies a strategic step towards deepening our already existing ties with India. This historic milestone will not only open doors to a longer and more enriching experience for Indian tourists but also provide a platform for increased economic collaboration. It is also a testament to Dubai’s commitment to India and the infinite possibilities that can be explored between the UAE and the sub-continent. With exceptional flight connectivity and our ongoing commitment to the Indian market, we are confident that our upcoming initiatives will further amplify awareness about Dubai’s diverse offerings, multicultural setting, and abundance of hotels and attractions, continuing to make it the top travel choice for Indian tourists,” stated Bader Ali Habib, Regional Head of Proximity Markets, Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism.

The long-standing relationship between the UAE and India rooted in centuries-old cultural exchanges and diplomatic cooperation once again progressed with this significant step. The golden city of Dubai is now more accessible than ever for Indian tourists to indulge in a world of luxury and opulence and the various experiences exclusive to Dubai.

Source Lifestyle Asia.  

Celebrating Collaboration: KATA’s Perspective on the Visit of Jordanian Minister of Tourism

Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) warmly received a special invitation to a dinner in honor of the official visit by Jordanian Minister of Tourism, Makram Mustafa Queisi. Among the esteemed attendees were Dr. Joseph Kithitu, Chairperson of KATA, and CEO Nicanor Sabula, alongside John Chirchir, CEO of Kenya Tourism Board (KTB).

The visit of Jordanian Minister of Tourism presents an exciting opportunity for both Kenya and Jordan. The emphasis on “mutual growth” and “enriching experiences” suggests a collaborative approach that benefits both tourism industries. This could involve joint marketing campaigns, exchange programs for tourism professionals, and the development of multi-destination itineraries combining the unique offerings of both nations.

At its core, tourism serves as a bridge between people and nations. This partnership has the potential to promote global understanding and appreciation for different cultures and environments. By fostering connections between individuals, it creates lasting memories and friendships beyond borders. KATA is committed to ensuring mutual collaboration between Kenya and Jordan, facilitating seamless travel policies and enhancing the partnership between the two nations.

In celebrating this collaboration, KATA looks forward to the shared prosperity and cultural exchange that will enrich the travel experiences of visitors from both Kenya and Jordan.

Why you need a Professional & Certified Travel Agent

More often than not, the Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) receives complaints from travelers who are victims of holiday scams after having purchased fake air tickets or fake holiday packages from unscrupulous travel agents.

The reality is that while it was widely predicted that the internet was going to ease travel by providing tons of information on available flights, fares, destination, safari packages, hotel bookings and literally everything a consumer needs in planning their travel, when digital tools were placed at every traveler’s disposal, chaos ensued. It also gave rise to sophisticated internet scammers that have swindled innocent consumers their hard-earned money and dream travel experiences.

Very often, the association will be hand tied in dealing with such complaints making it hard to assist the innocent complainants. We urge members of the public to ensure that the deal with KATA certified agents who have been vetted and tried in the market. They are bound by an ethical code of conduct and ethics the binds their dealings with clients on integrity and professionalism.

Other than assuring you of safety of your money, KATA certified travel agents bring tons of expertise in managing travel not only in Kenya but to global destinations.

Individual Travel Planning Vs Using a Travel Agent

Let say you want to book a hotel in Sandton, South Africa for Meetings Africa 2024 and want to do it on your own? It’s simple. Just type “Hotels in Sandton, South Africa” on Google search, then wade through the 520 million search results – most of which look the same, whether they are good or bad, legit, or bogus. Spend just 10 seconds each vetting sites, and you’ll be done in four years – and still won’t have booked anything.

Let’s take a much simpler planning, like straightforward searches for airfares for example for Nairobi to Toronto. The major search engines will routinely leave out lots of flights and even entire airlines. You will also be bombarded with terrible options starting with basic economy fares that come with tons of restrictions and fees, so the price you see isn’t the one you end up paying, along with connections way too short or way too long, ones that no responsible travel agent would let you book.

Amid this jamboree of information, chances are a huge percentage – that could be well close to half – could be phony. There has been an unprecedent rise in fake travel agents that look legit by every measure; impressive website, competitive packages, a physical location together with photos, fake reviews, fake receptionists etc. An initial search on the internet clears all doubt from a potential traveller that the agency/site could be a sophisticated scammer. You can’t believe how easy it is to get scammed online.

Let’s face it; a great holiday experience anywhere in the world will depend on how well you can architect the whole thing. From transport to accommodation, there are tons of things and options to consider. And in all honesty, trying to put together such an experience while relying on your own misguided sense of expertise without the help of a professional travel agent is simply foolish. This is where a KATA certified travel agent comes in to take away all the hustle, help you with your budget and give you a pleasant travel experience.  

Why a you need a travel agent

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong: Emergencies do happen and for every average occasional traveller who anticipates that anything can go wrong, chances are something will always go wrong. Stuff happens, and are often unpredictable. Bad weather has become a commonplace these days, you could get sick, get robbed, or be caught in those events that will disrupt your flights, and/or your final destination. Think civil unrest, disease outbreaks, wildfires or airline labor strikes.

Anything that causes cancelled flights means hassles, but the people who get through this process the most smoothly and the ones who get rebooked first are usually the ones who used a travel agent. The rest will get bumped from flight to flight – involuntarily – at a rate probably three times higher than what you would have paid.

KATA agents will always be a call away.

Travel agents are constantly monitoring their clients’ flights and they usually know about your problem before you do – and often have a solution before you even call them. They have direct access to airlines, to GDS (global distribution system) and can get ticketing changes made in minutes.

So, as much as you’d want to hope on a cheap flight that you found on your internet searches, you probably would not know what to do when caught in these situations without the help of a travel agent.

Unrivalled expertise: You can never know everything about travel, even if you are a frequent traveller. You need to deal with someone who is deeply involved in the industry, and who better than KATA certified travel agents? The problem with travellers who get scammed, they often rely on information they get from phony sites that will often be misleading. The result is you get scammed or land a raw deal. Some travelers will want to play safe and only stick to know brands of hotels or airlines or destinations that they know. Chances are, the best hotels, airlines and destinations are ones you have likely never heard of or used. This is where you can’t beat KATA travel agents’ knowledge and ability to give you a bespoke travel and holiday experience. The agencies usually leverage several experts such as a safari expert, a cruise expert, a corporate travel expert, a honeymoon expert, and so on, and they all work together.

First lane access: Whether you are trying to book space at a coveted 8-villa safari lodge in Laikipia, Kenya or getting a room in a top South Africa hotel during the Meetings Africa 2024, most hoteliers keep emergency inventory and guess who gets it? The travel agents they have known for years who book a lot of guests and send them a lot of business. This is the order of things in the travel industry. Do you need access to that hard-to-get dinner reservation? Free upgrade to first class? Or a free upgrade to the presidential suite? The KATA travel agent is your go-to person as they have built these connections over years or decades. Good luck trying to get that experiential travel on your own. When you get more than you expected for the same price, that’s a great deal, and with our certified travel agents this happens all the time.

Travel with confidence and book your next trip through a KATA certified travel agent by visiting this link:- https://katakenya.org/our-members/

Join us in Discovering the Beauty, Culture, and History of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s rich history is on full display during “Tir”,(“Tir” is the fifth month in the Ethiopian Calendar, which similarly hits upon January in the Gregorian Month.) with traditional weddings taking place throughout the month. Harvesting festivities abound, and horse riders flourish in their displays of skill. The diverse regions of Ethiopia each contribute their unique cultural elements – from the densely forested West to the shining camels of the East, the South resonates with the melodic songs of elephants, and the Northern mountains echo with tales of times past. The sun graces the land from dawn to dusk, illuminating the landscapes that are teeming with life. The coffee fields are abuzz with activity as farmers diligently pick the beans, a testament to Ethiopia’s status as the birthplace of coffee.

The water towers of Ethiopia proudly stand as symbols of the country’s strength and resilience, their significance deeply ingrained in the nation’s history. Ethiopia, often called as the Land of Origins, welcomes you to explore its wonders, where every cup of coffee brewed holds the timeless story of the boy Kalid.

ET-Holidays, your guide on this enchanting journey through Ethiopia, is excitingly inviting all nature lovers with a special flight package and arrangements. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of the magic that Tir 2016 has to offer. Pack your bags, and let Ethiopia unfold its wonders before you.

For more information ,please contact Ethiopian Holiday Team or Nairobi office on the below address.

Website:  https://www.ethiopianholidays.com

Email : nbocto@ethiopianairlines.com/nbosr@ethiopianairlines.com

Tel: 0701 223970/ 0723 786649 / 0701223493

Dubai Is Officially Over The Pandemic, Tourism Hits New Record.

Dubai saw 17 million visitors in 2023, the emirate’s best-ever year for tourism and the first year ahead of pre-pandemic numbers. The news was shared in a brief tweet by the city’s crown prince, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

The prince wrote: “The city is at the forefront of the global tourism sector, with one of the world’s highest hotel occupancy rates.”

Before Covid-19 struck, the emirate had set out to reach 20 million travelers by 2020, and it managed to hit 16.73 million for 2019. We don’t yet have a set goal for tourism in 2024.

In 2023, occupancy levels averaged 77.4% for the year across Dubai’s 800-plus hotels and 150,000 rooms. Further information such as source markets, average rooms rates and revenues are yet to be released by Dubai Tourism.

The most up-to-date data we have on source markets goes up to October 2023 but the rest of the year is likely to have followed similar trends. India was the top source market with 1.9 million visitors at that time, followed by the UK with 954,000 and nearby Saudi Arabia with 930,000.

In the first half of this year, it was Russia boosting Dubai’s tourism sector.

2024 Goals for Dubai Tourism

Dubai Tourism CEO Issam Kazim said in December that the emirate would look to improve its marketing around affordability this year.

Speaking at the Skift Global Forum East 2023, Kazim said: “Affordability comes hand in hand with supply. The perception people have of Dubai is because of specific properties and specific districts. Those are the usual suspects. But you can find amazing affordable options in Dubai.”

He said their lack of recognition is a marketing issue.

“We need people to realize all the supply beyond the usual suspects. It’s a marketing issue, it’s a communication issue.”

Kazim added that Dubai as a destination has matured, moving away from building superlative mega-structures for the sake of image, and more towards becoming a place tourists would want to one day live.

He said: “We created landmark projects. Those got us attention. Once we had the spotlight, we began to showcase the beauty here. There are 200 nationalities here, that’s the true magic of the city.”

“People want to raise their kids here, they want to become global citizens. People don’t become “Dubians,” they retain their culture and they become global citizens. This is a multinational city.”

Source: Skift.

Dubai to host global medical information leaders at major congress in 2027.

Dubai has won its bid to host the 21st World Congress of Medical Informatics – MedInfo – the flagship biennial meeting of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA).

Dubai will be the first city in the Middle East to host the Congress. The winning bid was led by the Emirates Health Informatics Society and supported by the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), Dubai Health Authority (DHA), UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and Emirates Health Services, among other key stakeholders.

Dubai’s accessibility and connectivity should provide IMIA with improved reach into new markets in addition to enhancing MedInfo’s appeal to first-time attendees.

Helal Saeed Almarri (pictured), director-general of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “Dubai’s success in bidding for MedInfo 2027 underlines the confidence that international associations across all sectors, including healthcare, have in bringing their major congresses to Dubai, and the powerful platform our city provides for knowledge sharing, professional development, and networking. It also reflects the culture of collaboration in Dubai and the ability of entities across the public and private sectors to come together to showcase the city’s strengths as a meeting destination.”

The pipeline of major conferences and congresses taking place in Dubai over the coming years includes key global medical and healthcare gatherings, with many bids championed by Dubai Business Events, part of DET and the city’s official convention bureau, in collaboration with DHA and Emirates Medical Society (EMA), as well as individual societies under its umbrella including Emirates Health Informatics Society, through its Al Safeer Congress Ambassador Programme.

The Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) has also awarded 70 hotels in Dubai with the ‘Dubai Sustainable Tourism Stamp’, a new sustainability initiative that seeks to recognise hotels with the highest level of adherence to DET’s 19 ‘Sustainability Requirements’. Dubai claims to be the first city in the region to mandate sustainability criteria for its hotel classification system, and the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Stamp (DST) initiative further reinforces its drive to become a leading sustainable destination.

Dubai has also secured the top spot as the No.1 global destination in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best Destinations Awards 2024 for the third consecutive year. The recognition comes as the city marks the first anniversary of the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, that aims to further consolidate Dubai’s position as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure, and the best city to visit, live and work in.

Dubai welcomed a record 13.9m visitors from January to October 2023 compared to 13.5m during the corresponding period in 2019. Average hotel occupancy between January to October this year has reached 76%, up from 74% in the same period in 2019.

 Source: CMW.  

A new era for air travel in East Africa.

Ethiopia recently announced the planned construction of a state-of-the-art new airport to accommodate further growth for national carrier Ethiopian Airlines. With a capacity of 100 million passengers p.a., the new facility in Bishoftu, 35 km south of Addis Ababa, would not only be Africa’s largest airport, but also a major player on the global stage.

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD/HAAB) dethroned Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as the region’s leading aviation hub a decade ago. Even with the latest expansion of Terminal 2, the meteoric rise of Ethiopian Airlines since the early 2000s is driving Bole towards a capacity limit beyond which it cannot expand. Hence the need for the new mega airport project.

The competition in the region is set to intensify further by 2026 with the opening of Rwanda’s new Bugesera International Airport. With an initial capacity of 8 million passengers p.a., expanding to 14 million in Phase 2, Bugesera will not only eclipse JKIA in its current state, but also position Rwanda as the next significant aviation hub in East Africa.

Kenya’s missed opportunities and the need to catch up.

JKIA, and Kenya’s aviation sector have experienced a series of setbacks since the disastrous fire in 2013, notably the cancellation of the Terminal 3 project (dubbed the “Greenfield Terminal”) and of the second runway. This essentially handed Ethiopia a decade-long advantage in the race for air supremacy in the region. As I wrote in an article in The Exchange Africa last year, reviving Terminal 3 and the second runway project now is a mere catch-up necessity to prevent JKIA from slipping to the third position in East Africa.

It was therefore a relief to see Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen announce that the Government of Kenya intends to relaunch the Terminal 3 project through a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) initiative. “Coincidentally”, this was followed by a confirmation that the government aims to find a strategic investor to inject fresh capital into Kenya Airways by June, which is also the deadline for the PPP tender.

Considering the region’s competitive landscape, it could make sense for Kenya to partner with a major international airline for both JKIA Terminal 3 and Kenya Airways. Ethiopian Airlines and Bole International Airport already go hand in hand as part of a national strategy to build Addis Ababa as Africa’s leading aviation hub, while Bugesera and RwandAir Ltd are set to become the regional tandem spearheads of Qatar Airways, owning 60% and 49% of the airport and the airline respectively. Expect an aggressive expansion drive there as Qatar’s national carrier digs in for a share of Africa’s airspace.

Pursuing a similar model for JKIA Terminal 3 and Kenya Airways would probably make the deal a more compelling value proposition to an international airline partner. It could also give Nairobi a comeback in the battle for regional air supremacy.

A regional battle of titans

With three major airports within a two-hour (±30 minutes) radius of each other, each vying to become the region’s preferred connection hub would likely lead to a massive showdown for direct connections and competitive pricing. Ethiopian, Qatar, and a potential global private-sector player at JKIA, backed by substantial investments, would be locked in a constant battle to establish direct connections across Africa and globally, at competitive fares.

Such competition would not only be beneficial for passengers but also for the countries hosting the hubs. More direct international connections and competitive airfares would enhance accessibility, boosting business, tourism, and investment attractiveness.

The distance between Nairobi and Paris is only slightly longer than London-New York, yet the latter will set you back by less than USD 400, while fares for the former start at USD 800. Once these two routes cost roughly the same, it will be safe to say that competition has effectively reshaped the market.

To get there, Kenya’s government should start by aligning the tender for a PPP at JKIA with the search for a strategic investor in Kenya Airways to favor one international airline getting both, while also getting the second runway back on track.

And if the long-term goal is to eventually restore Nairobi as the region’s leading aviation hub, then start thinking about Terminal 4 and a third and fourth runway already. Or a whole new airport with ample space for expansion.

As Ethiopia forges ahead with its ambitious new airport, the challenge for Kenya and other regional players is to respond with equal vigor and foresight. The skies over East Africa are set for a transformation, promising exciting times ahead for passengers, airlines, and economies alike.

Source: Bauck (Guest writer)

How Fintech is Reinventing Travel Payments.

The travel payments industry is undergoing a profound transformation, driven by the rise of fintech, evolving consumer preferences and changing market dynamics.

A 2023 white paper by Mastercard, titled “Embracing a virtual future of B2B travel payments”, explores these transformations and their impact on the sector.

The paper discusses how the pandemic has triggered a reevaluation of business-to-business (B2B) payment practices, the growing prominence of the merchant of record (MoR) payment model, and the increasing adoption of virtual cards.

Traditionally, travel agencies mainly served as intermediaries, transmitting consumer payment details to various service providers in an individual’s travel itinerary. However, the expanding network of suppliers has made this “pass-through” approach riskier and more cumbersome for both agencies and consumers.

To address these risks, an increasing number of travel agencies are shifting to the MoR model where the travel agency collects customer payments for all booked services, authorizes transactions, and then disburses payments to the specific suppliers associated with the booking.

The MoR model not only addresses these challenges but also opens up new opportunities for suppliers, allowing agencies to offer consumers new payment options such as installment methods and buy now, pay later (BNPL) arrangements.

The report notes a significant migration from the pass-through model to the MoR model, with travel agents acting as MoRs posting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43% from 2020 to 2022, a growth rate that’s more than double than that of the overall online travel agency market of 20% CAGR.

Another trend outlined by the Mastercard white paper is the digitalization of business-to-business (B2B) travel payments, with virtual cards in particular emerging as an appealing payment option. Virtual cards are essentially digital versions of physical payment cards. Virtual card numbers are digitally generated, PCI-compliant and single-use card numbers that are accepted everywhere traditional payment cards are.

According to Mastercard, virtual cards provide a unique, traceable link between booking and associated payments to third-party suppliers. They allow travel agencies and suppliers to easily track and reconcile payments, while offering benefits such as flexible pricing, financing options and card payment guarantees.

This results in a more streamlined payment experience for travel agencies and their customers, as well as travel suppliers. Transactions are also more secure, with Mastercard data revealing that the risk of fraud is 30 times lower when using virtual cards compared to traditional payment cards.

A 2023 infographic produced by Up in the Air, a travel payment consultancy from the Netherlands, depicts a dynamic and diversified B2B travel payment landscape.

This landscape comprises popular payment card schemes such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express; virtual card issuers such as banks; payment technology companies such as Stripe, Nium and Airwallex; as well as travel payment pure players such as Outpayce, a B2B payments business serving the travel industry, Mystifly, an airfare distribution and payments settlement marketplace platform, and iOL Pay, an automated payment acceptance solutions for the hospitality industry.

 Source: Fintech News.