Mask Mandates Disappear and More Top Stories This Week

Skift grip

In Skift’s main stories this week, major US airlines have been quick to lift mask requirements, travel to Japan is starting to steadily increase, and a hotel in South Carolina offers a glimpse of the how to create an inclusive workforce for people with disabilities.

Mary Ann Ha

Throughout the week, we publish original stories day and night covering travel news and trends, including the impact of coronavirus. Every weekend, we’ll give you a chance to re-read the most essential stories in case you missed them earlier.

Japan finally showing signs of recovery: Skift Travel Health Index: Poor travel performance in Russia and China, which came as no surprise, suppresses an otherwise strong continuation of the travel recovery in March 2022 that has finally saw Japan make gains, according to our Skift Traveler Health Index.

United, Delta, American, Other US airlines quickly drop mask mandates after judge’s ruling: Florida federal judge and Trump appointee freed US airlines from the tyranny of having to enforce mask mandates . The five largest US airlines did not wait long, dropping their mask requirements hours after the judge’s ruling.

Forget 2023 – Travel agents are booking for 2024 due to inflation concerns: Travel agents are loudly telling their customers that time is of the essence when it comes to booking. It’s unclear how expensive travel will become, as fuel prices show no signs of falling yet.

Dear travel leaders, sustainability is not a public relations exercise: when will the travel industry as a whole prioritize sustainability through deeds and not words? Time is running out and the complacency and greenwashing around climate action from aviation and cruises, and the continued lack of better options for increasingly conscious consumers is alarming. Most are back to business as usual – and it’s scary as hell.

American Airlines wants US to drop Covid testing requirements for international travelers: American Airlines sees pre-departure testing rules for US-bound travelers as the biggest obstacle to its international recovery. And while executives won’t say whether they will leave in May, they are optimistic about an increase in leisure and business travel.

FILA, Toy Story and Hello Kitty are the latest to jump on the hotel branding trend: losing connection with your guest means losing the meaning of your message. After a period of social distancing, brands are coming up with ways that bring them closer than ever to their consumers.

Companies still snubbing Airbnbs for business travel: New research from Deloitte: Don’t underestimate the power of big chain loyalty points, which business travelers will want to start collecting again to fund their next vacation.

Off-peak travel demand increases in post-pandemic recovery: Pent-up demand is so strong that off-peak travel bookings are higher for pre-summer weeks and mid-week days. On the industry’s first 2022 travel earnings call, Delta Air Lines said off-peak travel returns are improving as travelers move away from the most popular travel schedules. Expect to hear more from travel officials this year.

Pandemic Sparks Glamping 2.0: Bringing large spaces indoors comes at a high cost, but ultimately with a high return on investment for hoteliers and their guests.

A hotel in South Carolina will offer a case study for hiring workers with disabilities: Many travel companies want to foster a workforce where everyone, regardless of circumstance, can thrive. But many companies are wondering how to go about it. The example of The Shepherd Hotel in Clemson, South Carolina suggests one way.