The worldwide travel and tourism industry was gratified to learn that the UN Secretary-General and the World Health Organization (WHO) both recommended against restrictions on travel and border closures despite the move to phase 6 pandemic status of the A(H1N1) influenza virus.
Specifically, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, stressed in a statement to the press on 11 June 2009 that “WHO continues to recommend no restrictions on travel and no border closures”.
On the same day UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “we must guard against rash and discriminatory action, such as travel bans or trade restrictions”.
The move to phase 6 is based on the geographic spread of the influenza A(H1N1) virus and is not related to its severity. The current overall assessment of the severity of the virus remains moderate.
WHO points out that limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the disease, but would be highly disruptive to the global community.
In order to protect themselves and others under the current situation, individual travelers are cautioned to act in a responsible manner towards themselves, towards those around them and in the host communities of their destinations. They should familiarize themselves with the simple prevention practices that apply in daily life and while travelling such as hand-washing and normal cough etiquette. People who are ill should delay travel plans. Returning travellers who show influenza symptoms should contact their health care provider.
Travelers are encouraged to stay informed. They should check regularly with www.SOS.travel and other reliable resources for the latest updates and information issued by health and travel professionals to monitor any developments.
Through its Tourism Emergency Response Network (TERN) http://www.sos.travel/resource.aspx?boxID=4&id=42&description=About%20TERN, the worldwide travel community is working closely with WHO and sharing views on a regular basis. This ensures that the special situation of travelers is taken fully into account by WHO and that the industry is able to provide the best and most accurate advice to travelers.
The Tourism Emergency Response Network (TERN) is a coalition of leading associations representing key sectors of worldwide tourism. TERN was launched in 2006 as a response mechanism for the potential evolution of the H5N1 Avian and Human Influenza to a pandemic form. It has since broadened to address other natural and man-made crisis issues. This “network of networks“ is structured to facilitate collaboration and cooperation amongst decision makers and key stakeholders in tourism in the event of unforeseen and unpredictable events with potentially significant impact on tourism and the world community.
The institutions currently collaborating to face and deal with the challenges of the influenza A(H1N1) are:
• AAPA Association of Asia and Pacific Airlines
• ACI Airport Council International
• AEA Association of European Airlines
• AHLA American Hotel and Lodging Association
• ALTA Asociación Latinoamericana de Transporte Aéreo
• ASTA American Society of Travel Agents
• ATTA African Travel and Tourism Association
• CHTA Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association
• CLIA Cruise lines International Association
• CTO Caribbean Tourism Organization
• ETC European Travel Commission
• FIA Federation Internationale de l’Automobile
• IAAPA International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions
• IFTO International Federation of Tour Operators
• IH&RA International Hotel and Restaurant Association
• IATA International Air Transport Association
• ISF International Shipping Federation
• MPI Meeting Professionals International
• NTA National Tour Association
• PATA Pacific Asia Travel Association
• TOI Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development
• UFTAA United Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations
• UNWTO World Tourism Organization
• UST US Travel
• WTTC World Travel and Tourism Council
• WYSETC World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation