Coronavirus live updates and omicron variant news


New coronavirus cases have fallen 14 percent in the United States in the past week, based on a seven-day average, although average daily cases, at more than 695,000, are still not far from the U.S. peak of about 762,000. Covid-19 hospitalizations are also close to their peak, straining short-staffed hospitals, but they are also starting to fall. Covid-19 deaths, which often lag days to weeks behind outbreaks, are still increasing nationally.



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Omicron could be the thing that pulls business travel out of the pandemic


Peter Grover Tripbam

Peter Grover is managing director, Europe, of rate assurance specialist Tripbam

In 1942, Winston Churchill said: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

The only things I have in common with Winston are the thinning hair and being grumpy in the mornings – and the occasional glass of champagne.

But for two years now, the business travel industry has been looking to the day when the Covid-19 pandemic ‘ends’. We’re not naive enough to think it will go away entirely — that would be too April 2020 of us. Yet, we’ve been holding out for the day when we learn to live with Covid-19. The end of the beginning.

With Omicron, that day feels closer than ever. When the more contagious variant surged at the close of last year, dashing festive plans for many of us who were either self-isolating or had family members doing so, and halting travel’s fourth-quarter upswing, it felt like just another blow in the never ending cycle of blows dealt by the virus.

However, with reports from the UK and in the US pointing to the variant causing less severe illness, Omicron could prove to be the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve all been hoping for.

It’s worth noting I’m not the only one suggesting this. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian recently said Omicron probably marks the final phase of the pandemic. New York Times writer Nate Cohn said he hoped Omicron would be Covid’s Battle of the Bulge.

Here in the UK, we feared new restrictions or lockdowns would be on their way in time for Christmas. Instead, with limited restrictions reintroduced into our day-to-day lives, Covid cases are falling.


We’d expect to see a doubling in bookings month over month between December and January. Instead, things remain fairly flat for the time being


Most of England’s residents have either been jabbed, boosted or contracted Covid — more likely than not, all three — which points to the herd immunity scientists were telling us we were aiming for back when this all kicked off.

It also tracks with the 1918 flu pandemic, which lasted about 18 months and ended after either people had been exposed to the virus or it became less life-threatening.

In the UK, the mandatory self-isolation period for those infected has now dropped to five days after a negative test result, making getting Covid far less disruptive than it once was (beyond the obvious being ill bit). And in another sign of returning to ‘normal’, there are some reports that the government will be ending its lateral flow testing programme.

It’s too early to say how quickly this all translates into corporate travel recovery. Our own stats still show hampered growth in business travel in EMEA. We’d expect to see a doubling in bookings month over month between December and January. Instead, things remain fairly flat for the time being.
 
And of course there are still restrictions on travel between countries to contend with, too.

Nevertheless, I find myself feeling hopeful that we’re closer to the end of this thing than ever before. It could be that Omicron is the variant that saves our industry from Covid.



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Covid-19: Cook Islands travel bubble to remain despite Omicron cases


The travel bubble between the Cook Islands will remain open despite Omicron cases circulating in the community in New Zealand.

The country’s cabinet meet on Monday afternoon to discuss if quarantine-free travel would continue, just 10 days after the bubble with New Zealand resumed.

“Cabinet has approved to retain the existing International Quarantine Free Travel border settings with New Zealand,” the office of Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said in a statement.

The first tourists flew from Aotearoa to Rarotonga on January 14, five months after travel was halted because of the Delta outbreak in August.

READ MORE:
* Covid-19: First tourists fly to Rarotonga as travel bubble resumes after Delta outbreak
* Covid-19: Cook Islands tourism industry excited about travel bubble reopening
* The overseas destinations we’ll have the best chances of visiting in 2022

Before then, the Cook Islands and New Zealand travel bubble had been in place for three months, following a 15-month border closure due to the pandemic.

The Cook Island’s cabinet approved a number of new measures to take effect from Wednesday and was considering more in the coming days.

The Cook Islands government meet about the future of the travel bubble. (File photo)

RYAN ANDERSON/Stuff

The Cook Islands government meet about the future of the travel bubble. (File photo)

These included not allowing any unvaccinated people from entering for the next month and all travellers to Aitutaki – one of the Cook Island – from Rarotonga requiring rapid antigen testing prior to their departure.

The Cook Island’s government was also briefed about two recently arrived tourists, one who had been identified by the New Zealand Ministry of Health as having visited a location of interest.

“The couple tested negative on Saturday and are quarantined with day five and day nine tests to follow.”

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation general manager Graeme West said for now, quarantine-free travel was “full steam ahead”, but he asked visitors to check whether they had been at any locations of interest before travelling.

International travellers must return a negative PCR Covid test before departure, must have been in New Zealand for 10 days, and be double vaccinated.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown meet with cabinet on Monday afternoon. (File photo)

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown meet with cabinet on Monday afternoon. (File photo)

Children under 12 can only enter the country if they are double vaccinated. Vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds in New Zealand began on January 17.

The re-opening of the bubble had been eagerly welcomed by resort operators after almost two years of financial blows dealt by the pandemic.

Tourism is the most important industry of the Cook Islands’ economy, making up 70 per cent of its GDP.



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Covid news live updates: vaccine mandate, Omicron variant symptoms, home tests, CDC…


US opposes plans to strengthen World Health Organization

The United States, the World Health Organization’s top donor, is resisting proposals to make the agency more independent, four officials involved in the talks said, raising doubts about the Biden administration’s long-term support for the UN agency. The proposal, made by the WHO’s working group on sustainable financing, would increase each member state’s standing annual contribution, according to a WHO document published online and dated 4 January.

The plan is part of a wider reform process galvanised by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the limitations of the WHO’s power to intervene early in a crisis. But the US government is opposing the reform because it has concerns about the WHO’s ability to confront future threats, including from China, US officials told Reuters.

It is pushing instead for the creation of a separate fund, directly controlled by donors, that would finance prevention and control of health emergencies. Four European officials involved in the talks, who declined to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the media, confirmed the US opposition. The US government had no immediate comment.

The published proposal calls for member states’ mandatory contributions to rise gradually from 2024 so they would account for half the agency’s $2 billion core budget by 2028, compared to less than 20% now, the document said. The WHO’s core budget is aimed at fighting pandemics and strengthening healthcare systems across the world. It also raises an additional $1 billion or so a year to tackle specific global challenges such as tropical diseases and influenza.

Supporters say that the current reliance on voluntary funding from member states and from charities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation forces the WHO to focus on priorities set by the funders, and makes it less able to criticise members when things go wrong.

Top European Union donors, including Germany, back the plan, along with most African, South Asian, South American and Arab countries, three of the European officials said. The proposal is to be discussed at the WHO’s executive board meeting next week but the divisions mean no agreement is expected.



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What it’s like to cruise during Omicron


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(CNN) — Cruise ships turning around mid-voyage. People placed in quarantine cabins on board. Voyages abruptly canceled. Crew members trying to appease unhappy customers.

It all feels a bit like deja vu, but the cruise industry is soldiering on as the Omicron coronavirus variant makes its presence felt at sea as it has on land.

In the early days of the pandemic, cruise ships became synonymous with Covid-19, as virus-hit vessels struggled to disembark passengers and crew. The cruise industry subsequently shut down for months, and while some European journeys recommenced in summer 2020, cruise ships didn’t navigate US waters for another year.

When cruising did return, it was with stringent rules designed to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. This combination of mask-wearing, testing, vaccinations and increased medical facilities led Martyn Griffiths of industry body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to tell CNN Travel in June 2021 that cruise ships were “one of the safest vacation environments available today.”

Vessels weren’t guaranteed virus-free, CLIA said, but the goal was to avoid severe illness and major disruption.

Six months later, as the highly transmissible Omicron spreads around the world, the situation seems a little more precarious.

Health and safety

“There is no doubt that the Omicron variant has cast a great deal of uncertainty into the travel and tourism sector overall,” said Bari Golin-Blaugrund, another CLIA representative, in a recent CNN Travel interview.

Golin-Blaugrund made the case that while there have been several recent reports of Covid outbreaks on board the world’s cruise ships, Covid cases are a “minority.”

She said cruise lines remain confident in their health and safety measures, adding that these measures “are proving successful to virtually eliminate severe outcomes,” as hospitalizations are minimal.

While fully vaccinated people are not immune to Omicron, Dr William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, told CNN Travel that “booster shots improve the individual’s protection against getting severe disease.”

However Schaffner cast doubt on cruise lines’ ability to control the spread of the virus on board, even with fully vaccinated passengers and crew, and additional levels of protection in place such as mask wearing and regular testing.

“It’s not so clear how much boosting helps to diminish transmission, especially in such high potential transmission circumstances where people are so close together for such prolonged periods of time,” he said.

Schaffner suggested any traveler who chooses to go on a cruise at present is likely aware of the potential risk and uncertainty, and will have weighed this up before boarding.

“I think they must share a certain confidence in what it is that both the cruise line industry, as well as their fellow passengers are doing in order to mitigate the risk,” he said.

“And to a degree, they must feel themselves if not invulnerable, but likely to survive an infection. I mean, you would have to go through that kind of thinking before you decided to go cruising at the present.”

Passengers disembarking the Celebrity Apex cruise ship in Crown Bay Marina in Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on January 19, 2022.

Passengers disembarking the Celebrity Apex cruise ship in Crown Bay Marina in Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on January 19, 2022.

Gabby Jones/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Certainly, unlike the passengers caught up in the Covid fallout of Spring 2020, those on cruise ships today are aware Covid-19 is a risk, in the sense that they could catch it and fall ill, or the virus could disrupt travel plans.

British traveler Joy Bailey experienced first-hand what happens during a Covid outbreak at sea when she flew with her husband from the UK to Florida to embark on a Christmas/New Year sailing on board the Celebrity Equinox in late 2021. The 2,850 passenger capacity vessel operated by Celebrity Cruises was sailing at 60% capacity.

Bailey told CNN Travel that she accepted “we’re all going to get Omicron at some time,” but hoped the decreased capacity and other measures enforced by Celebrity Cruises would mitigate the likelihood of her catching the virus on board.

From the outset, Bailey said she was a little uncomfortable as many passengers ignored Celebrity Cruises’ face mask policy.

Five days into the journey, she tested positive. Bailey spent the rest of the voyage confined to a quarantine cabin, joined there by her husband when he tested positive a few days later.

Isolating on the ship was “good and it was bad,” according to Bailey.

The couple had a balcony cabin, so they could sit in the sun to pass the time. But they also describe waiting an hour on the phone to order meals.

When the voyage came to an end, Bailey told CNN Travel she was advised by Celebrity Cruises to head to a hotel she and her husband had pre-booked in Fort Lauderdale. The couple now faced a longer stay there before their return to the UK, as Bailey’s husband was still isolating.

The cruise company told them to contact its “care team” on shore to get assistance re-arranging their flight, but according to Bailey, the couple struggled to get through to the number provided. When they did get through, they were told no help could be given because they weren’t in Celebrity’s designated isolation hotel.

“That was a crazy moment,” said Bailey. In the end, they contacted their travel agent, who contacted Celebrity directly and changed their flight.

Celebrity paid for Bailey’s stay in isolation. She and her husband were also offered up to $100 a day to spend on food. The cruise line is also covering the days they lost on the cruise itself.

“All in all, it wasn’t too dreadful,” said Bailey. “But the experience with Celebrity on the ground in Miami was awful. I think they were just overwhelmed.”

This was Bailey’s first cruise in the wake of Covid. Pre-pandemic, she would cruise every couple of years. Testing positive on board hasn’t put her off traveling by sea, she said, but she’d like to see better coordination between the ship and the ground staff.

“We deeply regret this guest’s experience as it was not in keeping with the high levels of care and service we pride ourselves on providing,” a Celebrity Cruises spokesperson told CNN Travel in response to Bailey’s claims.

“We quickly learned from the experience and have since introduced a dedicated concierge team to ensure the needs of any guests impacted onboard are met every step of the way.”

Changing itineraries

Daniel Jay Park on board the January 9 sailing of the Norwegian Gem, which unexpectedly became a "cruise to nowhere."

Daniel Jay Park on board the January 9 sailing of the Norwegian Gem, which unexpectedly became a “cruise to nowhere.”

Daniel Jay Park

The current Omicron chaos has also led cruise lines to cancel sailings, sometimes mid-voyage.

Passenger Daniel Jay Park said the unexpected termination of his January 9 sailing on board the Norwegian Gem — a 294-meter-long ship which was sailing with a reduced capacity of 800 — didn’t impact his enjoyment of the voyage.

The ship set sail from New York before cutting its voyage short at the Caribbean island of St Maarten. Park told CNN Travel that when letters were sent to cabins to inform of the cancellation, passengers were “confused” and “a little frazzled.”

While Park and his husband were disappointed to miss the scheduled Caribbean ports, they decided to make the most of the circumstances, assured by the fact that everyone on board would have been vaccinated.

“I trust science and technology,” Park told CNN Travel.

The letter also stated that travelers would be entitled to full refunds.

Passengers were still able to freely roam around the ship and enjoy activities, said Park. Essentially, the voyage became a “cruise to nowhere” — something some many have opted into voluntarily in recent months in countries including the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Daniel Jay Park and his husband made the most of their time on Norwegian Gem.

Daniel Jay Park and his husband made the most of their time on Norwegian Gem.

Daniel Jay Park

Park said the experience didn’t put him off cruising, he also has nothing but praise for the way Norwegian Cruise Line handled the unexpected situation.

“We were just having so much fun and they were so good to us,” he said. “And now that the cruise was free, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, we have all the money back on our credit cards, let’s go again.”

Park said that the cruise line didn’t give an exact reason for Norwegian Gems’ cancellation.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line told CNN Travel that Norwegian Gem was impacted by the “current fluid public health environment” which means the cruise line must “make tough decisions and often times with very short notice.”

The spokesperson confirmed passengers were refunded with their original form of payment, and also provided with $100 onboard credit per stateroom and given a “Future Cruise Certificate” valued at 50% of the voyage fare paid.

“The rapid spread of the Omicron Variant around the world may shape how some destination authorities with limited medical resources view even a small number of cases, even when they are being managed with our vigorous protocols,” said CLIA’s Golin-Blaugrund.

She added that CLIA is not aware of any situations in which passengers have been prevented from disembarking at their final destinations.

Crew perspective

Crew members on board the Norwegian Pearl, which returned to Miami after only one day at sea in early January 2022.

Crew members on board the Norwegian Pearl, which returned to Miami after only one day at sea in early January 2022.

Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Crew members working on cruise ships right now face an uncertain day-to-day. CLIA’s Bari Goin-Blaugrund confirmed reports that sometimes Covid-hit crew are transferred to specific quarantine vessels.

“CLIA ocean-going member lines have been utilizing out-of-service ships for crew members who have tested positive for Covid-19,” she said. “Crew members are then monitored by the ships’ medical team during the course of their 10-day quarantine before returning to their assigned ships.”

A crew member working on a ship operated by Regent Seven Seas in the Caribbean told CNN Travel that while they felt relatively well-protected from Covid-19, there are other stresses involved in working on board during the pandemic — including dealing with schedule changes.

“A lot of our guests actually, they’re just enjoying the process,” said the crew member, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media. “But some, they start to complain, and of course it affects the crew because if, during your work, during the service on a daily basis, you have to calm them down, it’s not very pleasant.”

The crew member, who spent four months sequestered at sea during the spring 2020 Covid outbreak, said they were prompted to sign up again in October 2021 partly due to a lack of hospitality jobs on land.

They said they started their present contract before Omicron hit, and subsequently agreed to an extension to help cover staffing shortages.

While there was no written guarantee, the crew member hoped the cruise line might allow staff to disembark for shore leave. So far that’s not been permitted.

“It’s illogical, because the safe bubble is already destroyed when some people go ashore,” the crew member said, adding that not being allowed off board impacts crew mental health.

Regent Seven Seas and its owner, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Looking to the future

Golin-Blaugrund is hopeful for a brighter cruising future — CLIA’s goal is all ocean-going cruise ships back in operation by summer 2022.

Cruise ships in US waters were previously subject to Covid-19 rules enforced by the US Centers for Disease and Protection (CDC). This has now become optional, but Golin-Blaugrund said most cruise lines will likely continue to work with the CDC.

Meanwhile infectious disease expert William Schaffner is cautiously optimistic about how Covid-19 might develop in 2022 — at least in countries with readily available vaccines — as boosters and rising natural immunity could render the virus endemic rather than pandemic.

“If that occurs, then the risk for all kinds of congregate activities, including cruising would go way down,” Schaffner said

Still, added Schaffner, cruise ships by their nature travel across the world, stopping in different ports — and each destination may be in a different stage of its Covid-19 journey. The cruise ship population — both passengers and crew — are also international.

Cruise ships could continue to be navigating tricky waters for some time yet.

Top photo: Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas docked in front of lower Manhattan in December 2021. Courtesy Gary Hershorn/Getty Images.



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Flying and omicron: How to stay safe on a plane this holiday


Cloth masks should not be considered for flying; they aren’t even allowed on some airlines, especially in Europe. Lin Chen, director of the Travel Medicine Center at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said N95 masks are the best but not the most comfortable. She said KN95s are “quite good” also. For those who want to use a surgical mask, adding a cloth mask on top can help reduce any gaps.



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Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are travelling abroad despite Omicron


Despite growing concerns across the globe last fall over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, Sandy Long and her husband departed on Nov. 28 for a 10-day vacation in Mexico. 

Long said they felt comfortable travelling, because they planned to take strict safety precautions. Plus, the couple hadn’t gone abroad for two years due to the pandemic and were yearning to get away.

“Life is short,” said Long, 58, of Richmond, B.C. “We needed to feel some warmth [and] we really missed Mexico.”

It appears many Canadians have a similar attitude toward travel these days despite Omicron’s fast and furious spread, which prompted Canada to repost its advisory against non-essential international travel last month.

Statistics Canada tallied 742,417 Canadian air-passenger arrivals returning home from abroad in December. 

When adjusted to account for recent changes in tracking air travel, that total is almost six times the number of arrivals for the same month in 2020, and more than half the total for pre-pandemic December 2019.

The increase in international travel is likely to continue: there were 216,752 Canadian air-passenger arrivals to Canada during the week of Jan. 3 to Jan. 9, according to the latest data posted by the Canada Border Services Agency. 

Lesley Keyter, owner of The Travel Lady Agency in Calgary, said clients are booking trips despite the threat of Omicron because they want to return to travelling. (submitted by Lesley Keyter)

Travel agency owner Lesley Keyter said that, since October, the number of clients booking trips has jumped by between 30 and 40 per cent compared to the same time last year. 

She said popular destinations for her clients, most of whom are aged 50 or older, include Europe, Mexico and Costa Rica. When Omicron cases started to surge in December, Keyter said some clients cancelled their trip, but most kept their travel plans. 

“People are saying, “Listen, we only have a limited time on this planet.… We’ve put off travel for two years now, I don’t want to put it off anymore,” said Keyter, owner of The Travel Lady Agency in Calgary.

She said travellers also feel confident with the added protection of their COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot. Because Omicron is so transmissible and more able to evade vaccines, even vaccinated people may get infected, however, they’re less likely to wind up in the hospital.

Risk of testing positive abroad

But even if infected travellers only experience mild symptoms, they’ll still face hurdles returning home.

To enter Canada, air passengers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. If a traveller tests positive, they must wait at least 11 days before boarding a flight home.

Brennan Watson of Milverton, Ont., tested positive for COVID-19 while on vacation in Ireland. (submitted by Brennan Watson)

Brennan Watson, 26, of Milverton, Ont., tested positive on Dec. 28 while travelling in Ireland. 

He was set to fly home the following day, but instead had to find a place to self-isolate in Belfast. Due to Canada’s rules at the time — which have now changed — Watson had to wait 15 days before he could fly home. 

“It was very stressful in the beginning,” he said. “It was a bit of a panic just to think that I’m stuck here.”

Brennan said the delay cost him: he missed 11 days of work as an electrician and spent $2,000 in added expenses, including another plane ticket home. 

“There’s nothing you can really do about it,” he said. “It’s just something I didn’t even think would happen.”

WATCH | Canada once again advises against travel abroad:

Canada warns against non-essential travel abroad as Omicron spreads

The federal government is urging Canadians to stay home or, if they must travel, to plan ahead for quarantine and ensure they have travel insurance coverage. 3:14

Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said travellers can avoid such unexpected costs by purchasing trip-interruption insurance. He said most of his clients now opt for the coverage that will reimburse travellers for some or all of their costs if they test positive and must extend their trip. 

“Trip interruption — which used to be a very rarely [purchased product] — is now being added to all the emergency medical plans, because clients worry terribly about testing positive,” said Firestone with Travel Secure.

“That’s the new world we live in right now with the pandemic.”

Flight cancellations

Another hurdle travellers may face is unexpected flight cancellations. 

Since December, thousands of flights in Canada and the U.S. have been cancelled for pandemic-related reasons including crew members out sick due to the virus. 

This month, Air Canada Vacations announced it will suspend some flights to sun destinations between Jan. 24 and April 30. After cutting 15 per cent of its January flights, WestJet announced on Tuesday it will cancel 20 per cent of its February flights.

Long said she and her husband enjoyed their trip to Mexico so much, they had planned to return again in the upcoming weeks. However, the couple recently nixed their plans due to concerns over flight cancellations.

“It’s the uncertainty right now,” said Long. “I don’t want to get down there and then be stranded.”

However, she’s still optimistic about a trip the couple has booked in May to Spain. 

Despite testing positive while travelling, Brennan hopes to return to Ireland this summer — even if the pandemic hasn’t waned by then.

“I spent a year and a half of my life not seeing family, not seeing friends,” he said. “I’m not going to stop living my life.”



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Omicron presents another roadblock to hotel industry recovery


The omicron variant has fueled a record number of infections in the U.S.

“Hopefully, things are going to pick up,” he said, referencing airline forecasts that predict improvements in travel after President’s Day in February. “If we can pick up some momentum as we go into the spring, that’s really going to help us.”

Visitors bureau officials said they hope to see business recover to 2019 levels in late 2023.

ACVB officials were disappointed last week to lose a major convention booked for March. Organizers of the Pittcon Conference & Expo announced the cancellation on a website for the event, saying they were hearing from attendees, presenters and exhibitors who were concerned about the increase in COVID-19 cases internationally over the past month. The scientific conference would have brought thousands of people to Atlanta.

caption arrowCaption

The website for the Pittcon Conference & Expo scheduled for Atlanta in March 2022 now explains that the in-person event has been canceled due to COVID-19.

Credit: Screenshot

The website for the Pittcon Conference & Expo scheduled for Atlanta in March 2022 now explains that the in-person event has been canceled due to COVID-19.

Credit: Screenshot

caption arrowCaption

The website for the Pittcon Conference & Expo scheduled for Atlanta in March 2022 now explains that the in-person event has been canceled due to COVID-19.

Credit: Screenshot

Credit: Screenshot

Other major bookings for Atlanta this year include youth sports events, a woodworking show in August and a metal fabrication show in November.

ACVB’s goal is to bring 20 major conventions to Atlanta a year. It had only 12 in 2021, but has 20 scheduled for this year, 21 for 2023 and 20 for 2024.

In a January poll of travel managers and others in the business travel industry, 70% of those surveyed say omicron will have a very negative or moderately negative impact on their business travel revenue. About 35% of travel managers in North America said their companies have canceled all or most business trips.

While hotel bookings from business travelers are still down, Atlanta hotels report that leisure travel is fully recovered, ACVB figures show.

Leisure has “really been carrying us in a lot of ways, to get our occupancy back,” Pate said. The visitors bureau is trying to capitalize on that with marketing focusing on Atlanta’s diversity and its restaurant scene.

Another survey — this one conducted early last month by travel marketing company MMGY — showed vaccinated people are more likely to be concerned about traveling due to the omicron variant than unvaccinated people. More than 70% of the unvaccinated said news of the variant did not affect their likelihood to travel, while 39% of those who are vaccinated said omicron had no impact on their likelihood to travel.





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