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Swine Flu Outbreak Updates: 01-May-09: World Tourism Organisation

World Tourism Organisation: UNWTO stated it is “closely” monitoring the impact of the Swine Flu on the tourism sector. According to UNWTO, the major challenge at present is “to avoid travel restrictions based on inaccurate information and perception”.

The World Health Organization (WHO), leading the international effort to respond to the spread of swine influenza A (H1N1), has now moved the “Alert Level” from phase 4 to 5. This means that governments must activate all plans for a likely global pandemic. It also means that the private sector and the public should take all possible precautionary measures. The global and national coordination of response has been further intensified.

The impact on the tourism sector is closely monitored by UNWTO. At this stage, the major challenge is to avoid travel restrictions based on inaccurate information and perception. It is important to highlight the fact that WHO does not recommend any travel restrictions.

Under the current circumstances it is essential for travelers to exercise fundamental precautions by high levels of personal hygiene, frequent hand washing with soap and for people showing symptoms of influenza before, during or after a trip to seek medical attention. Such measures have proven to be most effective.

The extensive preparedness work undertaken over the last years by WHO, UNWTO and UNSIC will help limiting the impacts on the travel and tourism industry. UNWTO is working in the framework of the UN system to:

   1. Establish a cross industry information and messaging system - TERN, the Tourism Emergency Response Network.
   2. Encourage tourism integration into national and regional emergency preparedness plans.
   3. Raise preparedness through regional and national simulation exercises.
   4. Establish www.sos.travel as an emergency response portal to serve as a link for the entire tourism sector, destinations and ultimately consumers or their families in extreme emergencies.