Covid-19 Omicron variant: Are UAE travellers revising plans amid global restrictions?

Travel agents say no cancellations or rescheduling of travel plans after variant outbreak



Photo: File
Photo: File
by

Waheed Abbas

Published: Sun 28 Nov 2021, 4:45 PM

Curfews, lockdowns and new Covid-19 variant have once again made it difficult to make travel plans during this holiday season.

The UAE travellers are adopting a wait-and-watch approach and not cancelling their travel plans due to fresh restrictions placed by some countries on foreigners following the outbreak of Covid-19 new variant Omicron.

First reported in South Africa, the virus has spread to some other African and European countries. As a result, governments are placing a travel ban on passengers from the affected countries.

The UAE on Friday announced the suspension of entry of travellers from seven African countries – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique – on all flights, as well as transit passengers arriving. The travel suspension will be effective from November 29.

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“People are a little cautious but there are no air ticket cancellations so far. Everyone is waiting for what exactly will happen. If the new variant cases increase and more travel restrictions come in, then there will definitely be an impact on air traffic. Right now, people are just cautious and inquiring about the new variant and trans plans. They may decide in a couple of days when the situation becomes clearer,” said Raheesh Babu, chief operations officer at Musafir.com.

Mamoun Hmedan, managing director for Mena and India at Wego.com, said there are a few queries on the advent of a new variant but there is no direct impact on the searches for UAE residents to travel globally yet.

“We didn’t receive any cancellation or change in travel plans. However, it will be noticeable in the coming weeks once there are more details available on the new variant,” he said.

“However, we expect to see some decline in bookings over the coming weeks. Most of the travellers are now fully vaccinated and are taking full precautions while travelling. However, we do expect to see people get more cautious in travelling especially to the countries that had first cases from this variant. It is early to see the long-term effect that this variant will have,” added Hmedan.

Kerala travellers in a catch-22 situation

Raheesh Babu suggested that the UAE residents who are stuck abroad have the option to go to a third country and quarantine there for 14 days and then fly to Dubai.

Babu said Indian schools in the UAE will close for winter holidays from December 9 and many families plan to go to India for vacations. So they are inquiries about travel to Kerala in this regard.

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India said on Friday it will resume international passenger flights from mid-December and ordered tightened screening at borders as fears over a new coronavirus variant spread globally. Prime minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked officials to review the lifting of international travel restrictions in the light of detection of the new variant of coronavirus. Kerala government has also announced seven-day quarantine for international travellers

“School holidays are starting on December 9th and many families plan to go to India for vacations. But they are in a slight panic mode fearing travel restrictions. But they don’t want to reschedule their tickets and adopt a wait-and-watch approach. There will be more clarity next week about the number of cases and restrictions and then people will take a call on their travel plan,” he said.

Babu said there is still uncertainty whether passengers from all countries will have to quarantine upon arrival in Kerala or only passengers from those countries which have reported the new variant.

“If Kerala makes the seven-day quarantine mandatory for all, then there will definitely be an impact on residents’ travel plans.

-waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com


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