Travel, tourism sectors see glimmers of hope in latest Omicron info

Glimmers of hope for travel

Canadians are second-guessing their travel plans as information trickles out about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Katie Summers, a 34-year-old radio host in Calgary, says concerns about the new strain as well as confusion around testing rules mean she and her husband are reconsidering their wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii next month.

She says the prospect of sunny beaches as well as the threat of lost deposits for what would be their fourth failed attempt at international travel in two years have kept them from cancelling the vacation so far.

But Beth Potter, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, says airlines and hotels have not seen a surge in December bookings, while some guests have already called off holiday travel plans due to anxieties around Omicron.

Complicating matters are new measures by the United States that require all foreign travellers to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure.

However, ATB Capital Markets says airline stocks have rebounded slightly from an Omicron-induced dip over the past two weeks after preliminary data emerged suggesting the variant may not be as severe as initially feared.

Critical questions about the fresh strain remain unanswered, including whether it causes milder or harsher symptoms and how effectively current vaccines can inoculate against it.

In response to the detection of Omicron, Canada quickly imposed travel measures to curb the spread that include banning visitors who have recently travelled through 10 African countries.

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