Holiday season

How Omicron Is Affecting Travel Plans This Holiday Season

Despite reports from India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in its latest COVID-19 update (December 18), active cases represent less than 1% of total cases, currently at 0.24%, The lowest since March 2020, the spike in the number of people infected with the Omicron variant worldwide, including India, poses a serious challenge for the healthcare industry. According to media reports, Omicron cases are increasing rapidly around the world.

On December 17, the Union Health Ministry said 101 cases had been reported in 11 Indian states, including 32 in Maharashtra and 22 in Delhi. The health ministry said it was closely monitoring the situation and analyzing the situation to prioritize necessary actions.

The Economic Times quoted Juliet Pulliam, director of the South African DSI-NSF Center of Excellence in Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis, in a report as saying that the Omicron variant would spread rapidly in India (according to its projections).

According to medical experts, it is essential that everyone adhere to all pandemic prevention protocols, including avoiding travel and mass gatherings.

Warned Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), “It’s time to avoid non-essential travel, mass gatherings, time to observe the low-intensity festivities ushering in this news. year.”

The travel and hospitality sectors, the most affected by the containment and regulation of travel induced by the pandemic, are doubly affected. The gradual relaxation of travel rules and the opening of international borders had given rise to hopes of resuming business, especially during festive and seasonal holidays. But with the specter of a third wave of infections and with health experts advising to avoid non-essential travel, companies fear the restrictions will continue to recur.

According to a report by the World Travel & Tourism Council published before the emergence of the Omicron variant, 70% of travelers from the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and Japan planned to spend more on their trips to 2022 than in the past. five years, including 2019. However, fear of the new variant and concerns about infecting fully vaccinated people may negatively impact travelers’ state of mind, most travel officials say and hospitality.

The situation in India reflects the global outlook. Tour operators and hotels have already reported a surge in canceling reservations. Many said travelers are showing a growing interest in booking vacations where they can benefit from flexible cancellation options, a possibility that many travel agencies and hotels are forced to offer, but to their own detriment.

The time of India Quoted Riaz Ahmed, chairman of the Association of Licensed and Classified Hotels of Kerala (AACHK), saying: “The hotel industry is picking up and business has picked up by around 20%. But now there is still a crisis and we are seeing bookings cancellations of 50 to 60 percent. This will be the second peak season where we won’t have any business and that’s not good news for the industry. “

According to the latest forecast (November 2021) from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the coronavirus pandemic will likely cost the global tourism industry $ 2 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, and the same amount has been lost in 2020, making it one of the sectors most affected by the health crisis. The report also says the emergence of the Omicron variant has led dozens of countries to reinstate restrictions on arrivals, or delay the easing of travel and COVID-19 testing rules, causing great uncertainty for travelers. of the holiday season around the world. In fact, the UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals to remain 70-75% below 2019 levels in 2021, a drop similar to that of 2020.

However, UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili believes that while “we cannot let our guard down”, we “must continue our efforts to ensure equal access to vaccinations, coordinate travel procedures, use digital vaccination certificates to facilitate mobility and continue to support the sector.



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