International tourism taking a backseat amid Omicron scare

Published on : Monday, December 6, 2021

Tourism was among the sectors being impacted the hardest with the start of the pandemic, and also one that came back with equal vigor, thanks to what was termed as ‘revenge tourism’. However, now a new variant is already affecting tourism, especially, international tourism.

Global tour operators banking on the holiday season are witnessing cancelations to foreign destinations amidst the Omicron panic. Although domestic tourism is not yet affected, the Omicron strain of the coronavirus is having obvious impact on international travel.

The owner of an international travel agency said that itis not just outbound; inbound tourism, too, is affected. “We are seeing cancellations in inbound bookings from the US now. Even from other places, there is definitely a worry because of new rules being put in place in India. Many are postponing trips to next year. In fact, even parents whose children are studying abroad and want to return for the holidays are reconsidering because they are scared that borders may be shut again,” she said.

December is among the peak travel seasons. But enquiries have suddenly become nil. Travel operators said that the silver lining is Maldives, which appears to have become the go-to destination for anyone who can afford it. “There is a lot of traffic to Maldives. Hotels are almost full and no one is cancelling. The other destination seeing some amount of traffic is Sri Lanka. Dubai, which is usually popular, is affected due to high airfares, so people are thinking twice,” said a tour operator.

South African Tourism, although not acknowledging the impact of the new variant, said, “We are cognizant of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron (B.1.1.529) identified in South Africa, and applaud the diligence and swiftness of local scientists who quickly discovered the variant through collaborative efforts. We have complete confidence in the country’s health sector, which has demonstrated resilience, competence and exceptional expertise since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.”

However, they stressed that the country is open to tourism.

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