Year-end travel plans on as Omicron has little impact on tourism

Most foreign destinations are out of bounds, but Maldives and Dubai are exceptions

The Omicron scare seems to have had little impact on travel plans, except that most foreign destinations are out of bounds due to COVID-related restrictions. The domestic tourism scene is bustling with activity.

Vijeth R., a techie in the city, said his family has planned a vacation to Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, for the New Year’s eve. “We have not been anywhere out for the past two years and planned this vacation. Now, again there is a scare of a possible third wave. But since we would be in a cottage inside the national park, we have decided to go ahead anyway,” he said.

Sanjar Imam, President, Karnataka Tourism Forum, said Rajasthan, Goa and Jammu and Kashmir have emerged as the top domestic destinations of tourists going out of the State. While most international destinations are out of bounds, Maldives and Dubai, are two destinations that are taking tourists, and are doing well, he said.

“While international travel is almost wiped out, we have achieved pre-pandemic traffic volumes during the year end season. However, this was not the case even a few weeks before this season and we expect this to drop again after the first week of January,” he said.

“We observed a dip in bookings and several cancellations in November last week and the first week of December in the initial days of the Omicron scare. However, after a realisation that the infection is not severe and the caseload in the country not on a steep hike, people are travelling, though many prefer to stay in secluded places like independent cottages,” he added.

The hospitality industry in the State is also doing brisk business during the season. “Almost every resort and hotel worth the name in the State are fully booked and you can’t get a room now. All prominent destinations — Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, Kabini, Sakleshpur, Hampi — are all booked,” said M. Ravi, of Karnataka Tourism Society.

Sindhu Rupesh, Director, Tourism Department, said the response has been good this year, evident in how all the Jungle Lodges and Resorts and hotels by Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation are fully booked.

However, the State Government guidelines banning parties/ events for the New Year’s eve may lead to some cancellations in the State’s resorts, it is now feared. “DJs and parties on New Year’s eve are a part and parcel of the season. If there are no parties, guests will be forced to stay indoors, which they can do anyway at home. We fear that this may lead to several cancellations disrupting a good season. Many are heading to Goa since resorts and hotels there have confirmed parties will be part of the celebrations,” Mr. Ravi said.

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