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Swine flu impact on UK tourism low for now

27 April 2009 by
Swine flu impact on UK tourism low for now

Industry bodies have played down the potential impact of swine flu on the UK hotel and tourism industry.

The outbreak of the disease in Mexico, which is a hybrid form of flu that affects pigs and birds, is suspected to have killed as many as 100 people in Mexico.

Cases have also been found in Canada, the US and Spain, with people undergoing tests in the UK.

On the stock exchange hotel company InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG) shares fell by just over 5% due to concerns that the outbreak would hit world tourism, but a spokeswoman for IHG told Caterersearch it was "too early to assess the implications" of the outbreak".

The IHG spokeswoman added that the company was awaiting guidance from the World Health Organisation before taking any action.

Tourism trade association UKinbound said that the outbreak could have an affect on UK tourism industry, but it was currently impossible to say to what extent this would be.

She said: "No one knows how bad things are going to get. Although there are people being monitored for the virus in the UK, at present swine flu poses no immediate threat to the UK."

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) and the Tourism Alliance were also measured in their responses.

"If it becomes a major outbreak then it will certainly deter some travel, "said a spokesman for the BHA. "I think hoteliers should be aware that occupancy could be affected in the next few weeks, but by how much it's too soon to say."

Kurt Janson from the Tourism Alliance said he had been in touch with the Foreign Office to find out the latest but "hadn't felt the need for a meeting yet".

He added: "We're keeping an eye on the situation. But previous scares have not had much of an impact on UK tourism]."

World Health Organization experts are meeting later today to discuss the global threat posed by the virus.

Centre for disease control and presentation: swine influenza Q&A >>

Wikipedia: swine influenza >>

Mystery illness closes Heston Blumenthal's Michelin-starred Fat Duck >>

Consumers and caterers assured avian flu outbreak no risk to public health >>
Travel industry must prepare for bird flu pandemic >>

Fear of Sars could wipe out Asian hotel profits >>

By Gemma Sharkey

E-mail your comments to Gemma Sharkey here.

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