World Cup Tickets: Corporations Are Beating the Fans

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Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at early World Cup losses, Disney’s park dependence, and the Gulf’s coming unified visa.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, May 8. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

The 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, is shaping up to be a very corporate event. Several travel executives believe a lot of visitors for the tournament will be business travelers, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

Lena Ross, chairwoman of the International Inbound Travel Association, said at the IPW travel trade show that big corporations would buy up ticket blocks and give them to clients. In addition, Oswaldo Freitas, CEO of tour operator Easy Time Travel, expressed concern that hospitality packages would be too expensive for fans looking to attend the World Cup. That’s okay for tour operators specialized in serving corporate groups. But some tour operators may experience financial pressure during the World Cup as their costs increase and profits drop for non-sports tours and packages.

Next, Disney executives say they’re seeing strong attendance at the company’s theme parks but visitor numbers are slowing down after recent highs, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Jesse Chase-Lubitz. 

CEO Bob Iger said that theme park attendance is normalizing following records set late last year. He did express optimism that the company would see healthy growth in terms of bookings. Meanwhile, Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston, who also acknowledged a cooling off, said Disney would place greater emphasis on cruises, which he believes could be lucrative for the company. 

Finally, travel authorities in the Middle East are preparing to roll out a unified visa that will enable travelers to visit six Gulf countries. A unified visa could help the region attract big events, writes Middle East Reporter Josh Corder.

Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahd Hamidaddin said at the Dubai Travel Market the kingdom could land events like Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour if the wider region promotes itself as a unified destination. Other officials at the conference said they would leverage the visa to develop travel packages and extend the length of stays in the region.

Producer/Presenter: Jose Marmolejos

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