Omicron Slows Bookings, But Tour Operators Overall Love 2022: Travel Weekly

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Omicron has ruined just about everything this holiday season, from thousands of canceled flights around the world over Christmas, to scaling back New Years Eve plans (not to mention fluctuating travel restrictions and tighter test windows. ).

And the variant appears to continue to shake up plans as 2022 approaches.

But tour operators say that while there has been a slowdown in new bookings recently, omicron’s impact on existing bookings now and in the near term remains minimal, and the outlook is generally positive in 2022.

“USTOA tour operators have become adept at meeting whatever challenges this pandemic continues to pose to them,” said CEO Terry Dale.

Operators report that the start of 2022 looks promising – even in the face of Covid’s masked face.

“We are indeed booking vacations in advance for 2022 and, in fact, overall demand for 2022 looks healthy despite a slowdown in advance bookings in recent weeks,” said Steve Born, family marketing director of Globus brands. “We have been able to successfully operate hundreds of departures this year, and that includes managing changing entry requirements. Overall, we were able to maintain our operations to most European destinations.

There were, however, a few exceptions. Born said tours and cruises that had included Austria were canceled when the country entered a 20-day lockdown on November 22 and when Germany cut its main Christmas markets along the Danube. Recent tours to the UK, Israel and Morocco have also been canceled due to changes in quarantine requirements, visitor entry restrictions and flight cancellations.

Globus offers its peace of mind policy, which gives travelers the option to move their reservation to a new date (until 2023), a new route, or even a different Globus brand – a policy valid for all 2022 bookings. Born said that when the company proactively cancels trips due to circumstances beyond their control, they also offer rebooking incentives to customers.

Going on safari is one of the best places to go now.– Jean Fawcett, Abercrombie & Kent

“We understood that the world was changing,” he said. “But our commitment to the safety and peace of mind of customers on their travels – including providing worry-free, no-obligation reservations – would remain an important part of our new world. “

Luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent has experienced similar impacts from omicron. The company offers future travel credits for canceled or shortened trips and allows customers to modify or cancel trips up to 15 days before departure for reasons related to Covid.

“We have developed our flexible Book With Confidence booking policy in response to Covid. One of the aspects that customers appreciate is the ability to credit travel anywhere in the world, not just where they go. initially booked, ”said Jean Fawcett, an A&K spokesperson.

When omicron first appeared in South Africa in November, affected A&K customers had the option of cutting short trips or staying on safari; the guests chose the latter.

“Going on safari is one of the best places to go now,” said Fawcett.

The company’s 2022 schedule is filling up quickly, she added.

“The bucket list destinations, especially those focused on outdoor experiences – like Egypt, Africa safaris, and Peru – have generated the most interest. “

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