Daily Podcast: Google’s Travel Search Bonanza

Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, February 3, in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast explores Google’s very good quarter and the travel search boom that helped it along, Ghana’s success drawing travelers from the African diaspora, and an insurer’s fake Ukraine tourism ploy.



Episode Notes

Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Ongoing uncertainty about destination entry requirements and Covid-driven travel restrictions has led many people to look for the latest information on these topics before booking trips. One major beneficiary of this confusion has been Google as travel searches on its platforms have jumped sixfold, writes Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported as part of its fourth quarter and full-year results on Tuesday that searches about travel rules increased substantially year over year from August to October. Philipp Schindler, Alphabet’s chief business officer said that user behavior in searches tends to reflect what’s happening in the world. He added that during the Omicron wave, his company has seen searches for outdoor destinations jump in contrast to those for indoor locations, such as museums.

Meanwhile, Google saw its advertising revenue rise 32.5 percent to a little more than $61 billion during the fourth quarter.

We go to Ghana next. Tour operators in the West African nation have experienced an enormous boom in business in recent years by targeting members of the African diaspora, writes Editorial Assistant Rashaad Jorden.

Ghana marketed 2019 — the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans first arriving in the United States — as the Year of Return, inviting those in the African diaspora to visit the country where many slave slips departed from. One tour operator executive in Ghana said the Year of Return played a significant role in drumming up interest in Ghana, so much so that her company has created itineraries for more trips following its success in attracting guests that year.

Meanwhile, Marc Sison, the product director for Kensington Tours, said his company would market its offerings in Ghana to prospective guests by emphasizing Pan-Africanism, a movement that seeks to unify people of African descent worldwide. Kensington has partnered with Ancestry.com to launch a series of trips that enable travelers to visit the destination where they can trace their ancestral roots.

We finish today with a bizarre tourism push coming out of Ukraine, which may be at risk of invasion from Russia. An insurance company is urging travelers to visit the country, posting messages that many would mistakenly believe come from its tourism board, writes Global Tourism Reporter Lebawit Lily Girma.

A website called VisitUkraine.Today posted an announcement several days ago titled Keep Calm and Visit Ukraine, in which it said that the country is open and safe for tourists. But while the website resembles that of a tourism board, including detailing all the entry requirements for the country, VisitUkraine.Today actually sells insurance policies to travelers to the Eastern European nation.

Girma writes the message coming from the insurance company is confusing and misleading for consumers and businesses as they might not realize it doesn’t come from a tourism board. She added that some news outlets have been duped into believing that VisitUkraine.Today is the country’s tourism board and that the government supports the campaign. However, Skift received confirmation from the National Tourism Organization of Ukraine that it was not involved in the initiative.

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