“It’s hard not to feel a little anxious and despondent about the new variant and what it might mean for us, but keeping calm is important right now,” she said.
“I really wish the affluent countries would focus more efforts on vaccinating the poorer countries and improving vaccine equity. Until the whole world is adequately vaccinated, this pandemic will be far from over.”
Cate Deckout of Carrum Downs said her main concern was more travel restrictions.
“I’m far more worried about possible border closures after finally booking holidays next year to see my family and farewell my father,” she said.
Travel company Luxury Escapes had record bookings during October but founder and chief executive Adam Schwab said there had been a slight drop-off this month because of the news of the Omicron variant.
“November was tracking really well as well, and then the last few days have slowed down a bit, not ridiculously slow, but just dropped off a little bit with the variant,” he said. “There have been a few other variants and they both faded away pretty quickly and hopefully this will be the same.”
Mr Schwab said travellers were not cancelling their bookings, but people were not making new bookings at the same rate.
“We have definitely seen a tapering of sales. It has impacted people’s willingness to buy because they are not sure yet, but it hasn’t impacted people demanding or wanting credits or refunds.”
Restaurant and Catering Association chief executive Wes Lambert said the hospitality industry was not seeing booking cancellations as a result of the new variant, but the sector was concerned about the impact of border closures.
“They’re all very worried that this is going to affect the return of international students, skilled migrants, working holidaymakers,” he said. “It’s going to continue to exacerbate the severe workforce shortage.”
Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Australian Venue Co, which operates pubs and hospitality venues across Melbourne including the Middle Park Hotel, the Provincial in Fitzroy and the College Lawn in Prahran, said bookings remained strong in the lead-up to Christmas.
“We haven’t seen any evidence that people have cancelled bookings or functions because of any concerns regarding Omicron at this stage,” he said.
“It’s quite early in the piece. If it’s going to play out, it will in the coming weeks.”