Are we overreacting?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

The WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) is concerned that with the reactions taken by countries to try and control the coronavirus outbreak that we may damage travel and tourism.

The virus began in Hubei province in China

A couple of days ago it issued a statement saying that “closing borders, blanket travel bans and more extreme government policies will not stop the spread of coronavirus. Past experience shows that taking such extreme action has been ineffective at best.”

Looking at the virus from the impact that it has had on the number of people infected and who then died suggests that the WTTC might be right. So far death rates are low, lower than those from a usual winter flu outbreak that we see every winter. The major exception is Iran where the death toll equals about 15% of those infected. But in Iran, many observers are dubious about the quality of the data being issued by the authorities.

This morning Simon Calder, the travel editor of the Independent, popped up on BBC Breakfast suggesting that the chances of a person catching the virus in the normal scheme of things was “miniscule.” He also pointed out that there were deeply discounted holidays available now if you are prepared to travel in the next few days.

But if you are travelling via the Far East then you can expect some difficulties. If you go via the Malaysian capital – Kuala Lumpur – you should wear a mask and be prepared to have your temperature taken if you seem unwell. If you go via Singapore you will have your temperature checked when you arrive and the same will apply in Hong Kong. If you go via Japan, the advice is to wear masks and wash hands frequently especially after touching travellator rails and other places.

This morning I rang around some local travel agents. They weren’t happy people. Bookings were few and far between; conversations about cancelling holidays were widespread.

The widespread – almost saturation –coverage is certainly making holidaymakers nervous. The travel industry says that there is no need for nervousness and you should still holiday but they would say that wouldn’t they?

For us lesser mortals, each of us needs to decide whether it is hyped or not. And the answer to that will only be known after the virus disappears!  

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