Skift Take

In Skift's top travel stories this week, Sri Lanka is reinventing its tourism future, airlines and global distribution systems made peace, Google faced a bevy of lawsuits, an airline launched in the middle of the pandemic, and Hilton proved that mergers aren't the only way to grow.

Throughout the week we are posting original stories night and day covering news and travel trends, including on the impact of coronavirus. Every weekend we will offer you a chance to read the most essential stories again in case you missed them earlier.

Sri Lanka Looks Beyond Pandemic to Carve Out a New Tourism Future: A Sri Lanka reopening may be imminent. More importantly, the destination is looking beyond Covid-19 to reposition itself yet again, taking lessons from the Easter Sunday bombings crisis to find its place in the tourism universe.

Selina Raises $50 Million for Its Latin American Hotels: This week, travel startups Selina, Battleface, Tuyuan, and Roomy Hotels announced receiving more than $68 million in investment. Airbnb isn’t the only startup having a good week.

The Hidden Costs of Airlines Selling Direct: The surcharges may be disappearing, but the pressure will be on travel agencies to keep up with the airlines, and passengers may ultimately be left picking up the tab.

Latest Lawsuit Against Google Demands Changes That Could Impact Travel Search: This latest lawsuit against Google gets closer to the heart of travel industry concerns — the way it handles search results. Google defended itself, saying users could always use Tripadvisor or Expedia instead. You can take the Queen Mary 2 from New York to the UK instead of flying there, too.

Launching an Airline in a Pandemic: Folly or Brilliant?: Against all the odds, a new airline is launching in South Africa this month, aiming to offer low-cost domestic travel to the country’s 50 million inhabitants. The carrier’s launch comes as South African Airways sputters with financial and labor difficulties.

Marriott Will Offer Pre-Event Covid Tests to Revive Biz Meetings: Optional coronavirus tests are another layer to Marriott’s approach to combatting the threat of the virus. But testing is not a standalone solution to getting back to pre-pandemic performance levels.

2 Blank-Check Companies Set Up to Buy Travel Outfits Had IPOs This Week: Two blank-check outfits that will try to buy something in travel later debuted on the stock market this week. No Airbnb-style IPO pops, however, because no one knows what the acquirers might score in the travel sector.

Mural Tourism Resurgence Inspired by Pandemic and Black Lives Matter Murals do a lot more than beautify cities — they help attract a significant number of visitors to certain destinations through tours dedicated to such artwork. And in this very tumultuous year, new murals are addressing issues that strike an emotional chord with people.

How Hilton Built a 1 Million-Room Portfolio: Hilton’s growth milestone shows M&A isn’t the only way to be a major player. Here’s why big deals matter less at the hotel giant.

Lufthansa and Sabre Sign a Truce After Long-Running Airline Distribution Tussle: Lufthansa Group has led a years-long uprising by large airlines against the tech middlemen Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport. This new pact validates a changed commercial, technological, and marketing strategy at Sabre under CEO Sean Menke in recent years.

Travelport Agrees to Sell Enett to Wex at a Bargain Price: Wex Chair and CEO Melissa Smith has proven her mettle by being a shrewd negotiator, going up against the famously ferocious activist investor Elliott Management, part-owner of Travelport.

The Financial Metric That Matters Most to Airlines Now: Unprecedented losses forced airlines to focus on cash burn as the metric to watch early on during the coronavirus pandemic. The recent surge in new infections has delayed breakeven goals but, with billions of dollars on hand, most are looking ahead and getting ready for when travelers return in droves.

Star Alliance Wants Amazon Web Services to Lift It Out of the Crisis: Star Alliance says its move to Amazon Web Services has let it more quickly enhance many passengers’ processes. That’s promising news because a lot of digital innovation is still needed for booking and traveling on international itineraries served by more than one carrier.



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Tags: airlines, google, hilton, hotels, lufthansa, marriott, roundups, sabre, sri lanka, startups

Photo credit: A Sri Lanka sunset on August 14, 2016. The country is redefining its tourism for a post-pandemic world. Llee Wu /

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