Experts warn Australians to delay travel plans amid Omicron

Rhiannon TuffieldNCA NewsWire
There still remains instability around international travel.
Camera IconThere still remains instability around international travel. Credit: News Corp Australia

Travel experts are warning Australians to delay overseas travel, as international restrictions on residents ramp up and outbreaks pose uncertainty for holiday-makers.

While Australians have been able to travel freely between international borders since November, and more states are opening to travel between other countries, continual Covid outbreaks and new variants have made it harder to predict the safety and stability of travel.

A further blow to hopeful travellers this week came when the United States and Europe downgraded Australia’s travel safety rating, making it harder for Australians to visit.

While there was an initial travel surge towards the end of last year, Australian Traveller Media founder Quentin Long said there had been a dip in confidence brought in by the latest outbreak.

“As Omicron swept through, we totally killed off all that optimism that was in the market from November and December, and you saw that impact travellers plans and confidence,” Mr Long told NCA News Wire.

“I think when it comes to travel now, it all comes down to personal circumstances, what your risk appetite is, what you’re travelling for, how you feel about it.”

Omicron has posed a greater headache for travel internationally, with flights, navigating international borders and restrictions far more difficult than it was two or three months ago.

Those wanting to travel internationally have been encouraged to consider their plan if they were to contract the virus overseas, or if they became stranded in another country due to sudden border closures or restrictions.

Mr Long said certain issues could have less impact depending on an individual’s capacity to work from an overseas location, but the costs of being stranded also had to be weighed up.

“My number one piece of advice is get a travel agent, they’ll be able to work with you on everything you need to know about going to a destination,” he said.

“You’ll be able to get information about airlines, about PCR tests, RAT tests, what evidence you’ll need to get on a flight.”

While restrictions on residents leaving Australia have eased marginally, so have the requirements for re-entering the country.

International arrivals no longer need a PCR test to enter Australia, instead a rapid test within 24 hours of departure will be accepted.

If travellers contract Covid overseas, they only have to wait seven days instead of 14 before flying home.

But some have warned Australians to avoid international travel all together, despite the current border situation making it easier to travel back home.

Virologist Paul Griffin told ABC News continued Covid transmission around the world made it hard to predict the future of travel.

“If holiday plans could be deferred, I think that‘s probably advisable and particularly while we get our systems back up and running,” Dr Griffin said.

“If we had more testing capacity it might make things like travel able to be done a little more safely.”

With international travel more or less grinding to a halt during the first two years of the pandemic, there are predictions the aviation and travel industries won’t bounce back until 2024.

While Mr Long anticipated domestic travel would become more popular in the short term, he said confidence would likely be restored in international travel come April.

“Providing we don’t have a major variant of concern, I expect we’ll see more optimism about travel,” he said.

“I think you’ll see a spike in the April period where people will regain that confidence, especially in regard to travel to the northern hemisphere.”

Originally published as Experts warn Australians to delay travel plans amid Omicron

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