Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Travel and Tourism States Could Be Hit Hardest by Pandemic

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, you will need a back-up plan for any trips you must take this fall. And if you are IN the travel or tourism business, you need to plan NOW for an economic crisis that could make the current recession seem like kindergarten.

H1N1 or swine flu began to make headlines in Mexico late in the spring and the impact on the travel industry was instant and intense. Hotels throughout Mexico had cancellations and in May occupancy rates at Marriott Hotel and Resorts across Mexico were in the teens. Airports from Cancun to Cabo San Lucas looked like ghost towns.

In the second quarter, Continental and Delta Airlines reported pandemic related losses of $50-million to $150-million respectively. Delta feared losses for the year closer to $250-million and that was before this year’s fall flu season even got here.

Airlines are working on contingency plans, and Continental spokesperson Julie King says they are in constant contact with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Most airlines say they will either handle pandemic fears and cancellations on a case-by-case basis, or formalize their rebooking and cancellation policies after the government announces travel advisories.

At least 2,000 travelers from the U.S. and Mexico have been held in quarantine upon arriving in China, according to the U.S. State Department.

I travel a lot for business and the thought of being locked in a silver metal tube with potentially sick co-travelers has been bothering me. However, David Castelveter of the Air Transport Association says aircraft ventilation systems move air from side-to-side, NOT front to back. As a result, he says, the risk of exposure decreases with distance. AND, a pandemic flu virus doesn’t “live in the air” but is transmitted by droplets of fluids coughed or sneezed into the air, or passed from surface contact to hands and then to eyes, nose or mouth.

Travel insurance may help cover your costs if you get cancelled or rerouted, but travel experts say beware. Some travel insurance has a “pandemic clause” that could void your coverage.

If You're In The Travel Industry

States and regions that rely on travel and tourism for a significant part of their economic well-being could be hardest hit by a pandemic this fall. Nevada, Florida and Hawaii top the list, according to a report prepared in 2007 by The Trust for America’s Health.

Two years ago the Trust projected a $683-billion economic loss nationally during a pandemic. That’s about 5.5% of the goods and services produced in the United States. Nevada's economy could take a hit of more than 8%, while Hawaii's economic output could fall by about 6.6%.

"In a pandemic, we will see people avoiding discretionary travel and avoiding large gatherings for the legitimate fear of contagion," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health. "

The Trust for America's Health examined how a severe pandemic could impact consumer demand for products and services. The Trust estimates tourism and entertainment could experience an 80% decline in demand. A comparable decline could occur for hotels and restaurants.

Meanwhile, the transportation and warehousing sectors could experience a 67% decline in demand. The organization predicted that the economies of Virginia and Maryland would fare the best among the states but still face significant declines of 5.13% and 5.06%, respectively. Washington, D.C., could face a 4.62% decline.

1 comment:

  1. The website http://www.mustvisitindia.com/is one of the best travel and tourism related site; check out the travel directory section of the site that contains comprehensive travel resources to guide you in your search for the ultimate travel destination.