The discovery of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has shaken the tourism industry, especially in countries such as South Africa that have imposed travel restrictions.
Many business leaders are looking to return to individual activities, but changing regulations and travel policies remain the biggest challenges.
Here’s what you need to know about Omicron and travel safely this holiday season.
The latest COVID-19 Omicron discovery has once again disrupted the travel industry. As uncertainty mounts, some political policymakers have imposed travel restrictions, such as the red list of South African countries, while scientists are working tirelessly to understand what we do and don’t know about Omicron and how to navigate it.
Air travel in the U.S. is expected to triple from 2020 as the holidays approach, but Omicron variables could affect that number.
The Omicron variant is here – what’s next? Here are 5 possibilities
According to a Discovery Health study:
What you can do for your safety?
All types of COVID-19 can cause severe illness or death, especially for the most vulnerable people – prevention is always the key. This in particular points to the risk of overburdened health systems.
As WHO Director-General Tedros pointed out: “I have to be very clear: vaccines alone will not save any country from this crisis. They are not vaccines, but masks, distancing ventilation, or hand hygiene. Do everything. Do. That. Constantly. Do it well.”
The most effective steps an individual can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to stay 6 feet (2 meters) away from others; wear a mask; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded areas; keep windows open as much as possible to increase ventilation; clean hands; Cough or sneeze into your elbow or flexed tissue; avoid touching your face, and get vaccinated when available.
Impact Of Travel Restrictions Due To Omicron
The travel ban will continue to negatively impact travel and tourism activity given the restrictions on use over the past year. Uncertainty related to changing travel bans has had a major impact on demand. This is not because travelers are unwilling, who might otherwise travel despite the pandemic, but because of routes that have been canceled.
The negative impact on travel and tourism in the economies most dependent on them, such as those in South Africa, may be disproportionate.
The recent lifting of travel restrictions, such as in the United States, has begun to reflect a small increase in air travel, boosting the confidence of travelers and industry players.
Travel bans are not particularly effective at balancing the need for continued economic development. Instead, countries should take a risk-based approach.
“Travel restrictions may have played a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19, but they are placing a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Dr. Matchidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement. These restrictions, which should not be unnecessarily intrusive or intrusive, should be endorsed by more than 190 countries in accordance with the International Health Regulations, a legally binding instrument of international law, and should be based on science.”
Air travel itself remains safe, as has been demonstrated throughout the pandemic. But many countries still have testing and vaccination requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout travel.
Travel and tourism companies will feel the continued impact on the industry – multiple reports of travel restrictions due to Omicron’s new COVID-19 variant, leaving travel and tourism at a very disadvantage and hurting or closing small business operations. Especially medium-sized companies.
As for other companies, while virtual technology has served the global economy over the past few years, there are also significant benefits to individual participation. Companies are eager to resume business travel. At the same time, the overall pattern is disjointed and global coordination still does not exist. The World Economic Forum and others continue to work towards increasing certainty in this environment, especially through the use of digital frameworks and tools.
Changing travel regulations and policies are by far the biggest challenge. Where companies operating globally need to keep their employees safe and secure during COVID-19, this can be chaotic at best for mobility.
There’s also a backlash, as embarrassment about aviation has turned into a reaction to travel during the global pandemic. Travel costs have also increased significantly due to reduced flight frequency (one of the reasons for the travel ban) and increased costs of pre-trip COVID-19 testing.
Business travel will resume more slowly as companies and teams adapt to virtual meetings; however, for the most part, executives are willing to return to in-person meetings and meetings with partners and customers. But quarantine measures in different regions continue to prevent many businesses from resuming personal operations.
Business travel spending is the highest in many destinations, which is important for the global economy: businesses should consider supporting the return of responsible travel.
The World Economic Forum is reviewing the Tourism Competitiveness Report to better consider identifying and mitigating risks from climate, health, and socioeconomic factors. In many ways, the pandemic has amplified and underscored the importance of sustainability and resilience to the future competitiveness of tourism.
Companies with large corporate travel budgets should apply similar ideas to their strategies and become early adopters of more flexible and sustainable practices. Aviation and tourism continue to benefit businesses and economies around the world but must do so in a way that takes into account public health priorities and climate imperatives.