When the pandemic took hold almost two years ago, most would have thought that booking a vacation in 2022 was a pretty safe bet.
But the turbulence of successive lockdowns and COVID variants has taught us that it is much more difficult to emerge from a global pandemic than we initially thought.
There is no doubt that overseas vacations are universally missed, but with so many postponements already, is it really safe to book one for early 2022?
How is COVID affecting the tourism sector?
The tourism industry has been hit hard by COVID, and many travel bosses have been outspoken in their condemnation of the confusing government messages. Use terms such as “death knell” and “bodily blow” to express their impact on an already damaged sector.
Popular online travel agent On the beach is the latest to report its annual losses – around £ 18million (€ 20million). Managing Director Simon Cooper said “the shape of the industry’s recovery remains uncertain.”
When it comes to January and February, what do the experts really think about the likelihood that your vacation will continue? What are the safest destinations for winter vacations and how can you protect yourself against the invisible?
Are travel restrictions likely to change by February?
Countries around the world have reacted quickly to the announcement of the omicron variant – imposing travel bans and new testing requirements. World leaders are waiting to learn more about the threat posed by omicron – described as a “variant of concern” by the WHO – and will adjust their rules accordingly.
The next regular UK travel update is scheduled for today, December 9, and a three-week review of new omicron measures will take place on December 20.
Richard Sinclair, director of the ski travel agency sno, believes the UK government wants to cut testing to “save” the travel industry, but “they will probably only do so once omicron represents a significant percentage of nationally transmitted Covid.”
“We’ll probably have to wait for the review on the 20, when omicron is expected to account for perhaps a quarter of UK cases, before even the most timid of COVID can see that travel restrictions may have no effect. “
At this point, he predicts the rules will revert to a single lateral flow test for UK arrivals – on day 2, for the vaccinated.
This could mean that travel after Christmas in January is considerably easier. Sinclair has observed that many clients are choosing dates later this winter, with the UK semester week in February nearly sold out and the Easter Fortnight following suit.
What are the best destinations for 2022?
In the short term, winter ski vacations are always popular – especially for long-time skiers eager to hit the slopes again.
“The admin quickly skips to a little detail once you feel the cold air biting on your face, the unbelievably clean air in your nostrils and the surreal joy of coming back down the mountain,” says Andy Sturt, Managing Director of VIP SKI.
And after resisting the constant changes, tour operators are “better equipped than ever” to support customers, Inghams CEO Joe Ponte said, adding that their winter vacation in Lapland is a great winter option.
Aware that the pandemic will not be “over” anytime soon, many travelers have stopped delaying their adventures abroad.
Zina Bencheikh, Managing Director EMEA of Fearless journey says, “We are noticing that, rather than staying in the UK or Europe, people are moving to more distant destinations for next year.”
During a recent cyber-sale, the carbon-neutral company discovered that its “Classic Costa Rica” trip was by far their best-selling trip. Upscale trips to Iceland and Sri Lanka are also proving popular – with people willing to spend more on quality assurance.
“There is a part of people used to this new environment and accepting that their plans must change”, adds Bencheikh.
How to book a vacation in 2022
It’s hard to know where exactly a safe bet lies – as evidenced by the speed at which travel restrictions have been imposed in southern Africa – but one tip is to keep an eye out for infection rates in countries you know. consider.
Take into account the COVID testing schedule for your destinations as well as the tests you will need to take when you return, to determine where it is possible to travel and for how long.
If the administration and uncertainties of travel still put you off, it might be worth hiring a travel agent. “It doesn’t cost the customer anything to book through a travel agency anymore – it’s the travel provider who finances their services,” says the co-founder of Not just travel, Steve Witt.
“However, if travel arrangements change, the travel agent is responsible for modifying bookings or seeking refunds on your behalf.”
Do I need to purchase COVID travel insurance?
Almost every travel expert we spoke to stressed the importance of travel insurance. But not all insurance policies are the same or offer comprehensive protection – so how do you know which one is right for you?
“The most essential thing travelers need to do is purchase travel insurance that covers cancellation if they catch COVID,” says Sinclair. “If your tour operator can’t offer the vacation (due to blockages or restrictions), they have to reimburse you, but they won’t if you get sick yourself and can’t travel, like any other illness during your trip. ‘a travel. “
Founder of OVO Network Tim Andrews also advises taking a close look at the company’s reservation policy.
“The changing landscape has more than ever underlined the importance of having the right travel insurance in place for international travel,” said Katie Crowe, Director of Communications at face of battle.
The travel insurance company uses an algorithm to rate countries, and if a country is high risk when you bid and low risk when you buy, you may see a lower premium for your policy, Crowe explains.
“Right now, the map keeps changing. What may be an approved destination at time of booking may be subject to notice at time of boarding.
Battleface therefore encourages travelers to consider purchasing travel insurance a little closer to departure to ensure they have adequate coverage for the destination country at the time of their trip.
You can read more about COVID travel insurance in our practical guide.