Tourism Industry News
A clear message is needed from the industry to ensure informed travel
At a special session of the Global Travel&Tourism Summit, held in Florianópolis, Brazil, from 14-16 May, panellists agreed that, while the epidemic of the influenza virus A (H1N1) - commonly known as 'swine flu' - had so far been relatively mild outside Mexico, its possible return in mutated form in the northern hemisphere winter remains a serious cause for concern.Today, global travel is commonplace and large numbers of people move around the world for business and leisure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is not recommending travel restrictions, because it believes that limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the spread of the virus, but would be highly disruptive to the global community. The WHO pandemic alert is currently at phase 5 - with level 6 officially representing a pandemic.
But these designations are based on the geographic spread of the virus and not on its severity, according to the WHO terminology, which was seen as misleading by many of the delegates participating in the Summit.Indeed, speaking at the Summit, the World Travel&Tourism Council (WTTC) called for an urgent review of the WHO terminology and its classification system. “Every effort should be made to ensure we avoid unnecessary alarm," said Jean-Claude Baumgarten, WTTC's President&CEO. While the mantra “keep travelling" was reiterated by the Global Travel&Tourism Summit discussion panel, Geoffrey Lipman, Assistant Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), offered a note of caution - saying that any potential second wave of the H1N1 influenza virus could affect the industry a lot more.