Travel services company Thomas Cook India said that it has advised its customers to keep their travel plans unchanged till there is more clarity on the Omicron variant as there’s not enough data on the new variant. Travel and tourism was one of the worst hit industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years and experts say that the Omicron variant could lead to some disruptions in the industry’s recovery.
“Let’s accept that this is a reality, the new normal that we need to come to terms with in this COVID-19 era. While we have received a couple of cancellations, this is certainly not a trend. Pent up travel demand continues to be strong despite high occupancy and rates/air fares, and our domestic demand is even higher than pre-pandemic levels,” Madhavan Menon, Managing Director, Thomas Cook India Group said.
He added that the company is constantly tracking updates from health experts and authorities. “We are closely monitoring the situation and keeping our customers informed on a timely basis as we receive more information. We look forward to a review of the deferred reopening of scheduled international flights with a calibrated re-start that would increase capacity and bring rationalization of fares creating a healthy pipeline towards recovery in 2022,” he said.
Thomas Cook and SOTC are offering flexible options to change, reschedule or cancel if and when required. “This is very reassuring to our customers,” Menon adds.
Ratings agency ICRA Limited expects some cutdown in discretionary business travel which was showing signs of improvement in the last few weeks. Also, the number of people attending social MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions)/ weddings could reduce from previously anticipated numbers, it said.
"The Omicron variant has come at a time when the Indian hotel industry was recovering quite well, with pan-India occupancy of over 50 per cent in Octpber and November 2021. Hoteliers have not witnessed any major cancellations of retail bookings or events thus far. Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) have been relatively low since the start of the pandemic, largely restricted to the Air Bubble arrangements with specific countries. FTAs are likely to be muted for the next few months, at least,” Vinutaa S, Assistant Vice President and Sector Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA Limited, said.
She added that December and January are peak months for hotel demand, given the holiday season, and any increase in infection rates and intensity will dampen travel. “The situation is evolving and is being closely monitored,” she said.
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