WITH the Tamworth Country Music Festival just weeks away, accommodation in the city is normally booked out, but people are showing hesitancy to attend such a large event given how fast the Omicron variant is spreading.
Beyond that, large groups of people are beginning to outright cancel their bookings, leaving doubts over how well attended the festival's 50th anniversary will actually be.
Best Western Sanctuary Inn manager Evelyn Page said she has had literal busloads of people pulling out in recent weeks as concerns grow.
"Bookings are not as busy as last period at all, and people are hesitant because of what's happening so we're not as full as we are normally," she said.
"Same with Country Music, they're a bit hesitant with what is going to happen, I presume because there'll be a lot of people in one place.
"So even though it's the 50th anniversary we still have rooms, as a matter of fact a big bus cancelled on us not so long ago, so we just let them go because the older people just didn't want to travel with what was happening."
She said that stung, and while she was hopeful the rooms would all be snapped up before the festival began, there was no guarantee the demand would be there this year.
It's a big change from just three weeks ago before the state was struggling to contain the Omicron outbreak, when things were looking as if it would be as busy as ever during the festival.
Tamworth City Motel manager Chitra Malla said he hadn't been hit by cancellations quite as badly, with only one person having pulled out so far, although things were a touch slower than usual for this time of year.
"I had one cancellation this morning which was for early January, but that's all I've had," he said.
"My music festival times are about 90 per cent booked out."
While people are a bit unsure about coming into Tamworth, they're also unsure about heading out, with local travel agents revealing they have once again had to field calls from people looking to cancel holidays away.
People have become uncertain about the situation in major NSW cities, causing last-minute change of plans according to Chris Watson Travel owner and manager, Chris Watson.
"In particular people that were heading to Sydney and Newcastle for us is where we're seeing the cancellations," he said.
While holiday-goers aren't keen on visiting hotspots, there are plenty of people still looking to go to other parts of the state and beyond the borders.
Plenty of bookings have been made for the Gold Coast, while coastal locations like Port Macquarie and Foster have also proved popular.
Helloworld Travel Tamworth manager Phillip Pyne agreed Queensland destinations have been in high demand. But he too has seen business suffer as a result of the Omicron outbreak.
"Confidence is not strong about upcoming domestic travel, so we've just got to keep monitoring it on a day by day basis, and it changes quickly," he said.
"Our customers are watching and reviewing their position on a daily basis and sometimes we have to take action and other times we don't, but there is a bit of a confidence issue happening."
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