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Omicron threat sparks frenzy in Kerala, leads to spike in outbound air traffic

Travel & tourism stakeholders say things will return to normal if int’l borders stay open

Published: 06th December 2021 02:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th December 2021 08:59 AM   |  A+A-

Thiruvananthapuram airport

Thiruvananthapuram Airport (File | EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Panicked by the emergence of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, non-resident Keralites are making a beeline for the airports to catch flights to their workplaces in West Asian countries.

Despite this, passenger movement will not see a major drop provided international borders stay open, say tourism and travel industry stakeholders.

Normally, inbound traffic is higher during December while outbound traffic picks up after the Christmas-New Year vacations.

However, the emergence of Omicron has reversed things, causing a steady movement of passengers flying from Kerala to west Asia, while inbound traffic remains lower in comparison.

“Expats and travellers who came to Kerala for various purposes are cutting short their stay and returning to their job destinations or homes outside the country, fearing suspension of flights,” said Babu Paul, head of the Speedwing Tours. 

Air ticket fares between Kerala and various west Asian countries indicate this too.

While the average ticket fare in budget airlines from Kochi to Abu Dhabi on Monday is between Rs 17,702 and Rs 20,188, tickets from Abu Dhabi to Kochi cost between Rs 8,678 and Rs 9,604.

Kochi to Dubai flight tickets on Monday cost between Rs 14,949 and Rs 24,938 on an average, while the other way round cost only Rs 8,678 to Rs 12,881.

However, stakeholders in the travel industry are hopeful that traffic would return to normal after this initial frenzy if flights are not suspended like in the past. Japan’s decision a few days ago to revoke the suspension of flights after facing criticism has also instilled hope in them.

“It will take at least another week to know the actual situation in the international travel sector. However, we are hopeful that there will not be a panic shutdown this time as most of the economies are bruised and cannot afford to get hit further by Omicron. We have started to living with the novel coronavirus and will be able to live with the new variant,” said E M Najeeb, senior vice president, Indian Association of Tour Operators.

He said adherence to Covid protocol, maintaining strict vigil while travelling and increased inspection are what’s needed now.

“There is no point in closing borders at this juncture,” he said.

Kerala Homestays and Tourism Society (KHATS) director M P Sivadathan said almost all homestays have received bookings from the first week of December. 

“Closing of international borders will prove costly for us as our main income comes from foreigners. The quarantine norm for travellers from Europe will also be detrimental for the Kerala Tourism industry as majority of them come for short stays. However, we are able to earn a living by depending on domestic travellers and there is a significant rise in booking by them in recent times,” he said.



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  • Babloo Ramisetty

    What else do you expect?? Typical behaviour!
    1 month ago reply
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