Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It's Wednesday, March 16, 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

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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses a new oral history of an early month in the global Covid 19 pandemic, a Ukrainian tourism leader’s plea, and Accor’s evolving Europe strategy.



Episode Notes

This month represents the two-year anniversary of the most monumental moment in recent history as the rapidly spreading coronavirus, among other things, forced the travel industry to shut down. Skift is presenting the Oral History of March 2020, in which numerous industry figures describe in detail the moments when they realized the depth of the crisis.

Skift interviewed more than two dozen professionals in various sectors of travel, including several prominent executives, for the oral history. The oral history also contains statistics documenting the spread of Covid during March 2020 as well as timelines detailing major events in travel that month, including the United States closing its borders to both Canada and Mexico.

Next, many travel companies have expressed support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country. But in a guest column for Skift, Ukrainian tourism executive Mariana Oleskiv argues that support is not enough to stop the war as the travel industry still needs to take immediate action and unite to combat Russia.

Oleskiv, a chairperson at the State Agency for Tourism Development of Ukraine, launched an appeal for the global travel industry to stop all travel to Russia and cease conducting business in the country. She writes in a guest column that any tourism to Russia brings money that ends up supporting President Vladimir Putin’s aggression. Although a large number of travel companies have pulled out of Russia since the start of the war, numerous major airlines are still operating flights to the country and several car rental giants are currently active in the country.

In addition, Oleskiv called on the United Nations World Tourism Organization to suspend Russia’s membership. The agency announced it will hold an emergency general assembly to discuss whether Russia should be suspended.

Finally, we take a look at Accor’s expectations for 2022. The French-based hotel company didn’t enjoy the profitability its U.S. counterparts did last year due to its dependence on international travel that hadn’t recovered to pre-Covid levels. But despite increased competition from rivals seeking to beef up their presence in Europe, Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin believes his company will make an even bigger rebound in 2022, writes Hospitality Reporter Cameron Sperance in a preview of Skift Forum Europe to be held in London on March 24.

In an exclusive interview with Skift, Bazin — who will speak at the Forum — said Accor plans to beef up its portfolio of lifestyle hotels, which he said would help drive the company’s growth in the next several years. When asked about how Accor would fend off U.S.-based rivals seeking to make inroads in Europe, Bazin responded that his company would continue its aggressive growth strategy on the continent. Accor has added hotels in numerous major European cities to its portfolio.

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Tags: accor, coronavirus recovery, skift podcast, ukraine