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Update: World Health Organization Advises No Restriction
 of Regular Travel or Closure of Borders

London, UK - 29 April 2009

Outbreaks of communicable diseases, particularly those with the potential of becoming global pandemics, have important implications for all sectors of the Travel & Tourism industry. It is hardly surprising that the recent outbreak of swine flu has raised many concerns on the safety of travel. Travel & Tourism industry organisations and governments are clearly cautious about conducting business as usual and allowing their employees to travel, and consumers are anxious as to the risks they might be taking if they do not cancel their travel plans.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is monitoring the situation as it develops, together with - and on behalf of - its Members, and is in close contact with the World Health Organization (WHO), which is co-ordinating the global response and assessing the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic.

For the time being at least, although the situation is evolving rapidly, WHO advises no restriction of regular travel, nor closure of borders. But it does consider it prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention, in line with guidance from national authorities. Up-to-date information is available on WHO's website at:

WTTC would like to stress that the level of preparedness for such a pandemic within the industry is much better than most people realise, since mechanisms to deal with global health risks have been stepped up considerably since SARS and avian flu last tested the resilience of the Travel & Tourism industry.

The present economic uncertainties have already taken a heavy toll on demand across the globe and they will continue to endanger millions of jobs in one of the largest industries in the world. The swine flu outbreak is compounding the ailments of the global economy just as there are signs it might be starting to stabilise, darkening the outlook for everything from tourism to world trade. While nobody knows what the implications of a potential pandemic would be, a study commissioned by WTTC after the outbreak of SARS from its research partner Oxford Economics suggests that the impact could be severe and prolonged.

Amid all this uncertainty, WTTC believes it is vital to highlight the importance of Travel & Tourism industry as a catalyst, promoting economic diversity and generating wealth and employment in all areas of the world and at all levels of the economy.

Our aim is to call on governments to work in partnership with the industry to help restore confidence in Travel & Tourism and in the industry's efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of its customers, as well as protecting the livelihoods of travel organisations and their staff.

The situation is admittedly one causing serious concern, and the industry must act responsibly, but there is no need for panic.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten
President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council


The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is the forum for business leaders in the Travel & Tourism industry, working with governments and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the importance of one of the world's largest generators of wealth and employment. With Chairs and Chief Executives of the world's 100 foremost Travel & Tourism companies as its Members, WTTC has a unique mandate and overview on all matters related to Travel & Tourism.


Regine Doloy
WTTC Communications Director,
+44 (0) 20 7481 8007


Also See: Major Tourism Destinations and Global Tourism Companies Represented in WTTC's 2007 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards / May 2007

Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2006 Showcases the World’s Leading Examples of Best Practice in Tourism Development / January 2006

Recognizing Best Practices in Tourism Development, the World Travel & Tourism Council Names 12 Finalists for Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2005 / February 2005

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