Plans to boost summer tourism in South Dakota

KOTA-TV | April 18, 2019

Plans to boost summer tourism in South Dakota
In preparation for the summer season, the state tourism department is discussing new initiatives to attract more visitors. Staff members are touring the state to talk with several travel organizations one-on-one. 2018 was a record-breaking year for South Dakota's tourism industry.14 million people visited the state spending $4 billion; its a major boost to the economy.Several organizations are trying to attract more visitors from Chicago, Kansas City, Detroit and Denver with more commercials.Plus, teams are producing ads to show in Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK. The Visit Spearfish Executive Director Mistie Caldwell says this initiative can help South Dakotans become more culturally aware.

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Reduces car travel to school, in turn decreasing traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution. Creates opportunities to engage with neighbors and socialize on the way to and from school.

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BUSINESS TRAVEL

Hopper Secures $175 Million Growth Investment Led By GPI Capital

Hopper | August 18, 2021

Hopper is announcing that it has completed a $175 million Series G financing led by GPI Capital with participation from Glade Brook Capital, WestCap, Goldman Sachs Growth and Accomplice as the company emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever. As the travel industry continues to rebound, Hopper has demonstrated significant outperformance with its category-leading mobile-only marketplace, delivering value to customers and supply partners with the company's proprietary suite of fintech offerings. Hopper has over 60 million downloads, consistently ranks as one of the most downloaded travel apps, and now has a larger air travel market share in North America than it did before the pandemic (source: MIDT) along with a growing suite of API-enabled solutions for its B2B initiative. Based on its current run rate, Hopper is pacing towards 330% revenue growth compared to last year and it has already surpassed its pre-pandemic revenue peak from Q1 2020 by over 100%. Product roll-outs have been delivered over an increasingly diversified mix of air, hotel and car rental bookings with the company's fintech offerings now representing a majority of its revenue. Whether it's pricing volatility or avoiding trip disruptions, Hopper's fintech offerings aim to address every pain point in the customer journey while driving conversion, repeat purchases, and profitability. Earlier in the year, Hopper announced that it was launching a B2B initiative called Hopper Cloud. Through this partnership program, any travel provider – airlines, online travel agencies, meta-search companies, travel agencies, etc. – can integrate and seamlessly distribute Hopper's fintech or agency content. Additionally, Hopper Cloud offers white-label travel portals for companies that aspire to sell travel with a differentiated consumer experience and offering. By leveraging its vast data assets, Hopper takes on all financial risk as its AI is able to dynamically price each fintech offering on a real-time basis at scale. "The success of our fintech offerings demonstrate that travelers are willing to pay for flexibility and assurance as they resume traveling again," said Frederic Lalonde, CEO and Co-Founder of Hopper. "We feel strongly that our fintech offerings through Hopper Cloud can help supercharge the travel industry's recovery by introducing a totally unique revenue stream for other brands. In fact, if all travel distribution channels offered our fintech, it could increase the total consumer spend for the sector by $200 billion annually. We are excited to be partnering with GPI and their distinguished track record of supporting iconic consumer internet companies. We welcome Khai to the board as we execute on a roadmap for sustained growth over the long term." Khai Ha, Managing Partner at GPI Capital, commented "Hopper has created a large market opportunity with unique fintech products for the travel industry that applies an entirely differentiated and attractive business model in which we are excited to work with Fred and the leadership team to accelerate the flywheel. The company emerged from a challenging period for the industry, bolstering its technology capabilities, customer service and its opportunity set with a stronger, durable foundation. We are thrilled to be a partner in this category-defining story." The funds will be used to accelerate the company's growth across several fronts including customer support. Following a year of unprecedented customer support requests, Hopper has scaled its customer support team by 200% and developed several self-serve automation tools so that 60% of customer support requests are now resolved instantly. Hopper is hiring an additional 500 employees, of which 300 of them are focused on customer service. The company is actively looking to acqui-hire other teams in travel, data science, or engineering-heavy startups to introduce new product offerings and fuel international expansion. Hopper has had recent success integrating the teams of Journy and Mowgli, which will accelerate entry into new travel categories such as home rentals and regional expansion to Europe. Kirkland & Ellis LLP and McCarthy Tétrault LLP acted as legal counsel to GPI Capital. About Hopper Hopper is the world's fastest-growing mobile-first travel marketplace. By leveraging massive amounts of data and machine learning, the company has developed several unique fintech solutions that help customers save money and travel better. Through its B2B initiative, Hopper Cloud, the company is syndicating its fintech solutions, infrastructure, and agency content. Whether it's pricing volatility or trip disruptions, Hopper's proprietary suite of fintech solutions address every pain point in the customer journey while driving conversion, repeat purchases, and profitability. About GPI Capital GPI Capital is an alternative investment firm specializing in leading growth equity investments in technology, consumer and industrial companies. GPI focuses on identifying high quality businesses looking to accelerate growth and execute on transformational opportunities with an engaged and value-add partner

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DESTINATION AND TOURISM

Setting a new course for Pictou cruise ship visits

Town of Pictou. | August 23, 2021

PICTOU, N.S, After two seasons of cancelled cruise ship visits, the local tourism industry is showing signs of a rebound after COVID. Michelle Young, Manager of Recreation Services for Pictou Recreation and Parks, says that while cruise ship visits may have been on pause since 2020, work has continued behind the scenes to prepare for an eventual return of tourists. Now, bookings are beginning to ramp up again with ships scheduled to visit in 2022 and 2023. “We're very optimistic,” says Young. “There's a lot of preparation, though, to get to that point. Over this past year-and-a-half, the cruise sector has been highly impacted with COVID. So, in the meantime, there's been a lot of preparation going on at the higher levels. When the reopening happens, there will be protocols in place and guidelines that will be given to us that we will have to follow. There's also preparation on the community side as well.” Since 2012, the local cruise ship business has grown by partnering with companies operating smaller-sized vessels – an ideal fit for the primarily American tourists looking for a unique tourist experience. “We've had some great successes,” says Young. “There's a company that is regularly calling on Pictou every year – Pearl Seas. We've always aligned, what we have here according to the cruise company and what their brand is all about and what their client is looking for.” According to Young, the appeal to Pictou for U.S. visitors is a mixture of local features, including the connection to Scotland, local architecture and music. For some, the draw is a tie to family. “There's been a number of times that passengers on the ship actually get off and visit friends and family here, or they have come through another time while traveling and had a desire to come back by ship,” says Young. “We have one family that was researching family history and they needed to find a graveyard here. So that was very, very specific- they had their own agenda for that cruise.” The return of the cruise ships in a boon to the entire local economy, say Young, with not just tourism-related businesses benefiting. “Impact is in the local economy here is, you know who comes through your front door,” says Young. “By cruise passengers and crews locally walking through a gift shop or a pharmacy looking for either a souvenir or supplies, those are the direct things that local business community feel.” Adam Coulter, the UK Managing Editor for cruisecritic.com, predicts that smaller vessels to more unique locations will be a rising trend for the cruise ship industry in the future. “Expedition ships also focus on outdoor exploration in more remote places, which has become a priority during the pandemic,” says Coulter in a recent article. For Pictou, getting on the map for the cruise industry at this moment might be ideal as companies look for smaller, safer destinations that are off the beaten path.

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CBP Reschedules Opening of Trusted Traveler Program Enrollment Centers

CBP | July 02, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that trusted traveler program enrollment centers will remain temporarily closed until at least August 10. Prior to Wednesday's postponement, Global Entry and other trusted traveler program enrollment centers were scheduled to reopen on Monday, July 6. The decision comes amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in several states.

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Spotlight

Reduces car travel to school, in turn decreasing traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution. Creates opportunities to engage with neighbors and socialize on the way to and from school.