Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks closer at Washington, D.C.’s tourism budget, Airbnb’s New York history, and Sonesta’s junk fee lawsuit.
Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, September 1. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
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Washington, D.C. will spend roughly $20 million in an upcoming campaign to help boost the city’s lagging tourism recovery, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.
The global campaign — called “There’s Only One DC” — will launch November 1. Habtemariam reports the campaign will support influencer collaborations, as well as advertising on social media and television. Destination DC, the city’s destination marketing organization, hopes the funding injection will help it in its efforts to attract international travelers.
Washington, D.C. welcomed 1.2 million foreign tourists last year, which was just 60% of its pre-Covid figure. Habtemariam cited the absence of Chinese tourists, the city’s largest visitor market pre-pandemic, as one reason for Washington, D.C.’s international slump.
Next, U.S. hotel group Sonesta is facing a lawsuit about how it displays resort fees on its website and app, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.
The suit alleges that Soneta made tens of millions annually since at least 2017 by not disclosing upfront its mandatory resort and destination fees at some of its properties. O’Neill writes Sonesta isn’t alone in not disclosing those fees upfront. He adds all of the major hotel groups and many smaller hotels brands have engaged in the practice of junk fees in recent decades.
Lauren Wolfe, a counsel from consumer advocacy group Travelers United, said lawsuits against more companies regarding so-called junk fees are coming. Travelers United filed the class-action suit against Sonesta.
Finally, Airbnb and New York City have often had a rocky relationship, once marked by lawsuits and numerous disputes. Associate Editor Rashaad Jorden provides a timeline documenting the tension between the city and the short-term rental giant over the past 10 years.
Jorden lists the major twists and turns in New York City’s and Airbnb’s relationship using Ask Skift, our artificial intelligence chatbot, and additional reporting. Airbnb has sued the city twice — including this June over measures the company called a “de facto ban” against short-term rentals. That recent lawsuit was dismissed by a judge.
In addition, Airbnb is staring at the prospect of a steep reduction in New York City listings starting September 5. That’s when city authorities said they would start enforcing its host registration law for short-term rentals.