As consumers cancel bookings and reconsider holiday getaways, Canadian travellers are navigating the introduction of a the new omicron variant.
While it is too early to comment on the effects of the variant, which was discovered last week by public health experts in southern Africa, on international travel, some travellers have already cancelled plans to visit Africa and the Middle East in the coming months.
Karlee Marshall, a travel consultant with Toronto-based Glenny Travel, said that some of her clients – a group of travellers, have cancelled their upcoming January flight to South Africa.
But, she doesn’t anticipate too many cancellations for travellers going to other countries.
“What my clients are really worried about is the unknown,” she says.
“There is still not enough information about travel bans, quarantine requirements, and vaccine efficacy so right now it’s hard for travellers to make solid plans. But, I don’t anticipate many will cancel their flights in upcoming months because of the omicron variant.”
Amol Kamath, a Toronto resident, is planning to fly to India on Friday night as the country’s first two omicron cases were announced today.
He says it’s “too late in the game” to cancel his trip now, despite it crossing his mind. His main concern is being stranded in India due to possible travel bans.
“Getting stranded is definitely a concern, but it’s out of my control anyway, so I will just take it as it comes,” he says.
Shraddha Khirwadkar, a student at the University of Toronto, says she would be devastated if she has to cancel her upcoming holiday to Mexico.
“I’ve been planning this trip for a while now, and I haven’t travelled since the pandemic hit,” she says.
“While the rise of omicron cases are concerning, there is not enough information yet for me to cancel my flight.”
Following the detection of seven cases of the variant in Canada as of Tuesday afternoon, Ottawa announced additional criteria for most flight travellers, regardless of vaccination status, to take government-provided molecular tests upon arrival at Canadian airports from abroad.