WTTC to release new projections of the cost of swine flu to travel and tourism


Concerns about the recent outbreak of swine flu and the worldwide coverage it is receiving have caused the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the forum for leaders of the travel and tourism industry, to revise its agenda for the 9th Global Travel & Tourism Summit, taking place next week in Florianópolis, the state capital of Santa Catarina, Brazil.

The opening session of the summit will now be dedicated to the subject of a possible impending pandemic, and WTTC will unveil a new economic model it has prepared, in collaboration with Oxford Economics, to forecast the economic impact of such a pandemic on travel and tourism.

“We have to take this situation very seriously,” said Jean-Claude Baumgarten, WTTC president & CEO, “despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) currently maintains that there is no reason to impose travel restrictions unless people are already ill.

“But we have seen governments take unprecedented steps – in many cases due to uncertainties about the implications of the swine flu epidemic – that are fueling fears about traveling in general.

“Not only have governments overreacted, either,” said Baumgarten. “The public concern generated by misguided headlines in some media has inevitably affected travel and tourism demand.”

The summit session, “Are we really ready to deal with a pandemic?,” will include panelists from the industry, the media, as well as representatives from WHO and the Tourism Emergency Research Network (TERN), which groups all international public and private sector organizations and associations involved in travel and tourism. Oxford Economics will present the research findings.

In addition to addressing key concerns about the outbreak of swine flu and the preparedness of the industry for a pandemic, the session will discuss ways of ensuring a rapid recovery for the travel and tourism industry.

For up to date information about the summit, please visit www.globaltraveltourism.com .