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Google Unveils New AI-Powered Travel Tools

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Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at Google’s new AI tools, the U.S. State Department’s new approach to visa wait times, and Australia’s new record number of Indian tourists.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, March 28. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Google is launching several new artificial intelligence-powered tools to help travelers plan trips, writes Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes. 

The new tools will allow Google Search to create itineraries based on prompts from users. Dawes reports users can search for a trip itinerary, and they’ll see flight and hotel options as well as suggestions for attractions and dining. Google said the AI tools use information appearing online and reviews that users post about businesses.  

Google is also enhancing its Maps app to provide users more details about certain destinations in the U.S. and Canada. 

Next, the U.S. State Department will receive $50 million to help it cut visa wait times and passport backlogs, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

President Joe Biden recently signed a bill into law that would provide the department more resources to tackle lengthy visa wait times, one of the travel industry’s most pressing issues. The average wait time for a first-time visitor visa for the U.S.’ top inbound markets is roughly 400 days, according to the U.S. Travel Association.  

More than 300 travel industry professionals recently lobbied federal lawmakers to take action on the issue of excessive visa wait times. 

Finally, Australia saw a record number of visitors from India last year. Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia turned to Nishant Kashikar, Tourism Australia’s country manager for India, to find out about Australia’s recent success in attracting Indian tourists.  

Australia welcomed roughly 402,000 arrivals from India from February 2023 to January 2024. India is now Tourism Australia’s fifth largest inbound market. Kashikar partly attributed that record number to an increase in weekly flights from India to Australia and a simplified visa application process for Indian travelers.   

Kashikar added that Australia has seen a significant surge in business travel from India. 

Producer/Presenter: Jane Alexander

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