Sabir Hussain/New Delhi
Just when the travel and tourism sector was beginning to look up, the threat of the omicron variant of Covid-19 is beginning to hit the industry with a rash of cancellations in bookings in recent days.
While only two persons have been confirmed to have contracted the omicron variant in India, it is turning out to be a big disruptive element that is hurting the economies of travel companies.
Flip Trip Holidays in Delhi says there has been a spate of cancellations over the past week.
“Trips for Europe have been completely cancelled. And many domestic tourists have put the bookings to local destinations on hold,” said Honey Gupta, Head of Sales at Flip Trip.
Jitin Gulati, Manager of another Delhi-based firm called Trojan Holiday seconds Gupta.
“The outbound trips that included bookings for Dubai and Maldives have been cancelled. And while there were no inbound bookings because regular international flights have not resumed, a lot of people have cancelled their bookings for the domestic circuit as well. They include a couple who had booked a holiday in Goa for their honeymoon. About 50% of our bookings including domestic and outbound have been cancelled,” Gulati said.
Another travel agency called Bigbreaks.com said it is beginning to feel the heat of the omicron threat.
Ashish Agri, Business Head at Bigbreaks said, “Both inbound and outbound tours have been affected. There is no confirmation from our foreign associates for inbound tourists. We are slowly beginning to feel the heat. We still have bookings for domestic travel but they are also slowing down.”
The travel and tourism industry had been badly hit in the first two waves of the pandemic when travel was largely banned and was starting to pick up from last summer.
The Union Health Ministry has asked people not to panic but follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated at the earliest. The government is also weighing booster vaccine doses but the priority is to ensure that the entire population gets both doses of the Covid vaccine.
Earlier this week, the government put on hold a decision to resume international flights from December 15 in the wake of the omicron threat.