Need for US-EU task force on global emergency travel communications


The outbreak of the H1N1 virus this year, brought to light how poor information sharing is between governments and led to uneven decisions on travel and trade advisories and bans. Rumor and speculation replaced facts and guided far too many global governmental decisions regarding how people should travel and how goods should be transported between countries. This inconsistent messaging and miscommunication caused many companies and individuals to simply cancel travel and shipping plans, exacerbating the already challenged global economy.

Yesterday in Washington, DC, Travelport, called on the governments of the United States and European Union to develop a US-EU Task Force on Global Emergency Communications. The proposal is a part of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue’s (TABD) “Building a Transatlantic Innovation Economy,” a set of recommendations developed by the transatlantic business community in advance of the 2009 US-EU Summit, which will be held in Washington on November 2 and 3, 2009.

Travelport CEO and president, Jeff Clarke stated, “It is imperative for transatlantic governments to create a collaborative, accordant effort when communicating restrictions on global travel and shipping during health and security-related emergencies. Establishing a public-private US-EU Task Force on Emergency Communications will ensure consistency in messaging to mitigate unnecessary disruptions of global travel and trade.”

TABD EU executive director Jefferies Briginshaw stated, “TABD is pleased to include Travelport’s proposal to create a Global Emergency Communications Task Force in its 2009-2010 recommendations to the governments of the US and the EU. Last spring’s outbreak of the H1N1 virus demonstrated that even those countries with the closest relationships can suffer from communication breakdowns in emergency situations. Travelport’s recommendation to create an ongoing dialogue between government and business is a thoughtful solution to a very real concern for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The proposed US-EU Task Force on Global Emergency Communications would serve as a clearinghouse of fact-based information for elected officials responding to global crises. It would ideally be chaired by government and business representatives from the travel and supply chain industries. Other members of the Task Force would represent different sectors of the economy and include health and security representatives.

Initially, the Task Force would focus on establishing cross-border relationships between the relevant decision-makers and developing mechanisms to ensure consistent communication in the case of an urgent emergency situation.

Further information on this recommendation as well as the complete list of proposals from TABD can be found at: .