The Indian tourism industry, which is hoping for a revival after being badly hit for almost two years, is on a wait-and-watch mode on the impact the new Covid variant Omicron might have on the sector.
“It’s going to be a tough call for the industry as nobody knows how much will it affect tourism. The impact of it (Omicron) on those who are fully vaccinated is yet to be known. So, we will have to wait and watch for a while,” said Tarun Thakral, COO, Le Meridien.
There is a possibility that India might ban flights coming from South Africa and other European countries. Right now, the government is focussing on doing proper screening at the airports for those coming from these countries, he added.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified as ‘at risk’ to mitigate the spread of Omicron.
“There was a severe impact of Covid on travel industry where everything was on standstill and the industry is still in the process of recovery. The new variant can pose a serious threat; however, we have not seen any impact on travel bookings yet. There are few queries from customers to know more about the variant and get clarity regarding flights; so we need to wait and watch,” said Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip.
Need of the hour
Industry insiders also said that they have barely come out of the disaster caused due to the pandemic, so need of the hour is to take proper precautions and ban those coming from South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“We need to realise that Covid is not going to go anywhere and the new variants will keep coming one after the other. The most that can be done is to ban the flights coming from the countries where the cases have been found. If the overall travel is suspended once again then more people will die of economic starvation than Covid,” said Subhash Goyal, President, Confederation of Tourism Professionals.
Recently, the government announced resumption of the international flights from December 15 after a gap of almost two years. However, as many as 14 countries have been excluded from the list. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra has called for a rethink on the easing of international travel curbs in light of the emergence of the new variant.