Omicron COVID-19 variant raises concerns for travel industry in Canada – National – .

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Omicron COVID-19 variant raises concerns for travel industry in Canada – National – .


The emergence of a new variant of COVID-19 has Canada’s travel industry bracing for an influx of customer concerns and worries about whether the recent industry rebound will be put on hold again.

With little knowledge about the new variant and how the vaccines will fare, the hospitality industry is concerned that some may cancel their travel plans, even if public health advice regarding the holidays does not change.

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Travel bans targeted “too late” to stop Omicron COVID-19 variant, experts say

Travel agents and associations said on Monday they received a series of calls from customers curious about cancellation policies after the World Health Organization appointed Omicron, first detected in South Africa, as a “worrying variant” last week and two cases were found in Ottawa on Sunday.

On Monday, Ontario’s chief medical officer Dr Kieran Moore said two potential cases were also under investigation in Hamilton along with two more in Ottawa. Quebec’s health minister has also confirmed a case in the province.

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Ontario travel agent Kristin Hoogendoorn said while her company, KMH Travels, has yet to experience a wave of cancellations, a few customers have already asked about refund policies.

“People will hear the word variant and they will see it all over the news and they will panic,” Hoogendoorn predicted.









COVID-19: How the Omicron variant could affect hospitalization rates in Canada

COVID-19: How the Omicron variant could affect hospitalization rates in Canada

Richard Smart, executive director of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, has yet to see a scramble to change vacation plans, but acknowledged that the restrictions placed by Canada on those arriving from southern African countries during the weekends could cause problems.

“It all comes down to consumer confidence and anything that impacts consumer confidence in travel will have an effect on the travel industry,” he said.

“An announcement like the one we saw this weekend has already rippled the waters. “

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Read more:

Canada finds the first cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Ontario. This is what we know

Smart and Hoogendoorn say the uncertainty around Omicron comes at an unfortunate time.

As COVID-19 cases declined and immunization levels increased, they noticed people were once again comfortable traveling the world in recent months.

Air Canada told analysts in early November that domestic leisure bookings were picking up and people were visiting family and friends and even heading to “sun destinations” again.

“It was as if the stigma was gone and we were slowly starting to come back,” Hoogendoorn said.


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Several countries restrict travel on Omicron COVID-19 variant


Several countries restrict travel on Omicron COVID-19 variant

If the new variant turns out to be more virulent or deadly, Hoogendoorn believes the recovery the industry experienced before Omicron will be further delayed.

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“This variation feels like a punch for our tiny little sector which keeps getting beaten up and if people cancel I don’t know how long we could survive,” she said.

Smart, however, was hopeful that Omicron might not scuttle the travel industry’s recovery just yet because vaccination rates are high.

“We remain concerned but… cautiously optimistic that we see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

“We expect 2022 to be a very good year. “

© 2021 The Canadian Press



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