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Good morning from Skift. It's Tuesday, February 1, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

Listen to the day’s top travel stories in under four minutes every weekday.

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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at data on flight traffic in the United States, a strategy by Accor to expand in the U.S., and the recovery of the Philippines’ tourism sector.

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Episode Notes

Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Omicron is making the U.S. travel industry’s climb to a full recovery even steeper, and recently released data reveals the extent to which the variant pummeled domestic travel bookings for December 2021, writes Senior Travel Tech Editor Sean O’Neill.

Flight data compiled by tech service Airlines Reporting Corporation revealed that ticket sales dropped 30 percent in December from the previous month while passenger trips fell 21 percent. A company executive said the typical end-of-year decrease the company typically sees in sales and trips was more pronounced in 2021 due to many consumers’ concerns about Omicron. While the Delta variant had a greater impact on travel bookings than Omicron, a spokesperson at a travel tech company said the spread of Omicron propelled travelers to cancel more frequently at the last minute.

Next, we examine Accor’s plans to make further inroads in the U.S. The France-based hotel company believes its joint venture with lifestyle hotel brand company Ennismore, which it has a two-thirds share in, will make it a major player in the country, writes Hospitality Cameron Sperance.

Philippe Zrihen, the head of the Americas for Ennismore, told Skift recently that his company’s focus in terms of growth is in the U.S, viewing the country as an underserved market. Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin had indicated several months ago his company’s limited U.S. presence meant its recovery from the pandemic was delayed between nine and 12 months compared to its competitors.

However, the partners expect 10 of the 14 brands under the Ennismore umbrella to gain traction in the U.S. In addition, the Hoxton — an Ennismore brand — is expanding throughout the country.

We end today in the Philippines. The country will reopen to fully vaccinated foreign visitors not required to have a visa from February 10. But despite those travelers not having to quarantine in hotels upon their arrival, it’s unclear how fast the country’s tourism industry will recoup billions of lost revenue, reports Contributor Maria Stella F. Arnaldo.

One major reason for the uncertainty is the vastly decreased number of flights to the Philippines as several major international carriers have dropped Manila as a route or reduced flights to the archipelago. For example, flights from London Heathrow Airport depart to Manila only once weekly instead of four times a week prior to the pandemic. In addition, visitors from some major markets — such as Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore — need to quarantine upon their return home, which one hotel industry executive believes might discourage some people from traveling overseas.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has taken several important steps to prepare for its reopening. It now categorizes arrivals based on their vaccination status after lifting policies many found confusing, such as the color classification of countries based on Covid risks. Furthermore, its Department of Transportation has issued vaccines to a large percentage of tourism workers in popular leisure destinations.

Tags: accor, coronavirus recovery, ennismore, philippines, skift podcast, usa