All those issues melt away for someone who catches Omicron. The peace of mind it offers when you travel is an upside. With more people having recovered from an Omicron infection, some may feel more confident of the immunity it confers and look to satisfy the pent-up wanderlust.
So could Omicron, once the bane of the travel industry, turn out to be the boon that heralds its revival?
TRAVEL IS MAKING A COMEBACK
Pent-up travel demand has erupted, like champagne spurting out of a bottle.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported the fastest increase in international tickets sold in January and February since the start of the pandemic. In early February, travel ticket sales were reaching half of that in pre-pandemic February 2019.
This reflects the relaxation of travel rules announced around the world, including in Australia, France, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Sweden, said IATA.
Singaporeans, starved for a change in scenery for the last two years, too can’t wait to travel. Skyscanner saw a 71 per cent increase in searches in January up from the previous month. Top destinations searched in Singapore included Manila, Seoul, London, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne.
Forward bookings by Singapore travellers to Australia shot up 179 per cent after the latter re-opened its borders, according to travel analytics firm ForwardKeys. “We are encouraged by the indications of return to travel thus far,” said Brent Anderson, Tourism Australia’s regional general manager based in Singapore.
Likewise, Booking.com saw an uptick in bookings by Singapore travellers in the past month to short-haul destinations like Kuala Lumpur and Seoul, and those farther away like London and Paris, said its Asia-Pacific managing director, Laura Houldsworth.
Travel industry leaders believe that travel will rebound and recover in the long term. East to West, West to East, the world has wings again.
UKRAINE THROWS A SPANNER IN THE WORKS
But is it time to pop the champagne to mark the return of travel as it was?