‘No need for travellers to panic’


DOES Avian flu indeed present a risk to travellers? Said Klaus Laepple, president of German agents and operators association DRV at ITB Berlin, “The current situation is: avian flu is a disease of animals.

At this time there have been no known cases of vacationers being infected with the H5N1 virus. Neither have any instances been recorded of the virus spreading from one human to another. Therefore the medical profession does not believe that travellers need fear avian flu. However, they should pay close attention to the recommendations that have been issued and avoid close proximity to birds.”
Laepple said the travel industry naturally takes the threat of Avian flu very seriously and that there is now effective communication between the travel industry, the Foreign Office and medical institutes. Crisis managers in the travel industry are always kept up to date on the latest developments. “There is no reason to panic,” he said.
“If travellers were to be put at risk as a consequence of avian flu the crisis managers would take immediate action, and the necessary processes have already been determined. Such action has proved its effectiveness on many occasions in the past, for example with the greatest help and rescue action in the history of the travel industry following the Southeast Asian tsunami.
“The most important thing that the affected regions can do is to carry out professional and selective crisis management. At the same time open and rapid communication with the public is essential. An event of this kind is bound to initially create a sense of insecurity, and that is why it is so important to explain, openly and competently, the local situation and the action that is being taken. Once this is assured I assume that the situation in the affected destinations will rapidly return to normal. This is what we have learned from past experience.
Thailand offers the best example. The floods had a devastating effect on the country. The people living there, and those assisting them, decided to take decisive action, and as a result, in 2006 more people will be visiting Thailand than did prior to the tsunami.”