In less than a month since Omicron was first detected, some of the economies have started to suffer already. South Africa, where the variant originated, recently imposed and received travel bans which has affected the country’s tourism business.
Last year, Covid19 led to a loss of $4.5 trillion in the global tourism economy. In Africa, 50% of people working in the tourism sector lost their jobs. And just when normalcy was being restored, and tourists were slowly arriving to South Africa for its wildlife and biodiversity, the new variant arrived. A recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report estimates a further $1.7-$2.4 trillion could be lost from the global tourism sector by the end of 2021. In Africa, these losses are projected at $170-253 billion.
Around 15 million tourists visited South Africa in 2019, and that number shrunk to less than five million in 2020. With Omicron in sight, the country’s tourism industry could be in for another year of massive losses.
As of December 8, Omicron has been found in more than 15 countries including India. While it is more transmissible than the Delta variant, its symptoms are largely mild.