Tourism analyst Gary Bowerman expects much of the first half of 2022 to be about rebuilding the newly lost confidence, as the much hoped-for rebound at CNY seems further away.
The outlook for 2022 depends not only on Omicron, but also on the scale of new waves of the Delta variant taking hold in some countries.
Several governments in South East Asia have introduced harsh, short-term border closures, lengthier quarantines and selected flight bans – these are designed to deter travel, rather than ban it, as more scientific assessment is made regarding Omicron.
Unfortunately, this has curtailed momentum that was gradually building, and has dealt another heavy blow to travel confidence.
Two weeks ago, the 2022 Lunar New Year period appeared as if it might kickstart a fledgling recovery in parts of the region. That looks impossible now, and that means another year starts on the back foot.
Talk for much of the first half of 2022 will be about rebuilding the newly lost confidence from Omicron and Delta.
Governments also have a monumental challenge ahead to persuade sufficient proportions of populations to get a third jab, as hesitancy at the moment appears pretty high in some countries of South East Asia.