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Omicron casts a shadow over outbound 2022!

The third wave is on us so it seems. The statistics give us a grim picture. India has reported more than 6.3 times increase in cases in the last eight days ending (January 5th 2022). According to the Health Ministry, the case positivity rate has gone up from 0.79 per cent on December 29th, 2021 to 5.03 per cent on January 5th 2022.

This can spell bad news for the Indian outbound holiday market in the short term as we head into the summer months very soon. Every state has imposed its set of restrictions and even if the situation abates in the next few weeks the situation would not change much.

Short-haul travel will take place but long-haul travel will pause till the situation comes under control.

The world is suddenly seeing a spike in cases. The US crossed the one million daily cases a few days ago. The cases in UK are hovering around 2 lakh per day. Though this sudden spike in the number of cases have been attributed to Omicron, it does not lessen the intensity of the spread of the disease.

In this atmosphere, it will be hard to promote international travel as people do not have the will to make that foreign trip.

However, epidemiologists have suggested that this Omicron variant is not as severe as the Delta wave that took a huge toll in India. Second, they believe that this will die down in a matter of months. This is good news for the industry as they can hope to salvage the situation in the second half of the calendar year.

This difference this time is that we have in our arsenal vaccines and drugs that can protect us and this is reassuring to the vast majority of the people.

The outbound industry should now focus on short-haul and mid-haul destinations going forward as this is the only way out to salvage international travel. Destinations such as UAE, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and a few African countries have kept their doors open to the Indian outbound tourists and they should focus on these countries for the time being.

The second half of 2021 showed that it was possible to travel in a bubble with all protocols in place and it was safe. Dubai attracted over 6.5 million tourists in 2021 and this in a year when travel was down demonstrated that it can be done in a safe environment.

Travellers will wait and watch the situation and even if they get a small window of opportunity to travel they will pack their bags and head overseas it’s a wait and watch situation for everyone.

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