Travel industry must prepare for bird flu pandemic

20 April 2006
Travel industry must prepare for bird flu pandemic

The travel industry must make contingency plans to cope with a pandemic of bird flu, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) experts.

Although there is currently no link to humans, a pandemic is long overdue according to Max Hardiman, project leader of international health regulations at WHO, at the Global Travel and Tourism Summit last week.

"We can't predict when it will happen but many of the preconditions for a pandemic have already been met and the risk is now much higher," Hardiman warned.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Greek government's minister for health, said: "Europe is a good example of being well prepared to face the threat and have a common plan of action in case it mutates to affect humans. This is the first time there has been such a high degree of co-operation."

Governments have to learn from the handling of Sars and Hurricane Katrina disasters, and the key to avoiding a media circus was to provide accessible and early information, Hardiman added.

"People will travel in spite of disasters if the risks are reported accurately. Government transparency builds confidence and helps create resilience in the travel market," he said.

By Emily Manson

World Travel and Tourism Council
World Health Organisation

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