Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast takes a closer look at Washington, DC’s tourism budget, the history of Airbnb in New York, and Sonesta’s unwanted charges lawsuit.
Hello from Skift. Today is Friday, September 1. Here’s what you need to know about the travel industry today.
Washington DC will spend around $20 million part of an upcoming campaign to boost the city’s belated tourism recovery, writes global tourism journalist Dawit Habtemariam.
The global campaign – titled “There’s Only One DC” – will launch on November 1. Habtemariam reports that the campaign will support influencer collaborations, as well as social media and television advertising. Destination DC, the city’s destination marketing organization, hopes the infusion will help it in its efforts to attract international travellers.
Washington, DC, welcomed 1.2 million foreign tourists last year, which was only 60% of its pre-Covid figure. Habtemariam cited the absence of Chinese tourists, the city’s largest visitor market before the pandemic, as one of the reasons for Washington, DC’s international crisis.
Next, US hotel group Sonesta is facing a lawsuit over the way it displays resort fees on its website. and the app, reports Sean O’Neill, hotel editor.
The lawsuit alleges that Soneta has earned tens of millions of dollars each year since at least 2017 by failing to disclose in advance its mandatory resort and destination fees at some of its properties. O’Neill writes that Sonesta isn’t alone in not disclosing these fees upfront. He adds that all major hotel groups and many smaller hotel brands have engaged in the practice of junk fees over the past few decades.
Lauren Wolfe, a lawyer with consumer advocacy group Travelers United, said legal action against more companies over the so-called unwanted charges is coming. Travelers United has filed a class action lawsuit against Sonesta.
Finally, Airbnb and New York have often had a difficult relationship, once marked by lawsuits and numerous disputes. Associate Editor Rashaad Jorden provides a timeline documenting the tensions between the city and the short-term rental giant over the past 10 years.
Jorden charts major twists in New York City’s relationship with Airbnb using Ask Skift, our AI-powered chatbot, and additional reports. Airbnb has sued the city twice — including last June over measures the company called a “de facto ban” on short-term rentals. This recent lawsuit was dismissed by a judge.
Additionally, Airbnb is considering a sharp reduction in listings in New York starting September 5. That’s when city officials announced they would begin enforcing the guest registration law for short-term rentals.