Choking travel won’t stop coronavirus, says WTTC head – TravelMole true

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Choking travel won’t stop coronavirus, says WTTC head

Sunday, 25 Feb, 2020 0

Governments and authorities worldwide have been urged not to overact to the spread of the coronavirus.

Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council said closing borders and imposing blanket travel bans wasn’t the answer.

She issued the statement after it was revealed that British holidaymakers are among 1,000 guests being held captive in a hotel in Tenerife after a guest was diagnosed with the virus, which has spread to northern Italy, Switzerland, Iran and elsewhere.

Guevara, Mexico’s former tourism minister, said she has first-hand experience of containing a major, viral incident after dealing with the H1N1 influenza virus in her home country.

She said: "Governments and those in authority must not seek to choke travel and trade at this time. Closing borders, imposing blanket travel bans and implementing extreme policies are not the answer to stopping the spread of coronavirus.

"Past experience shows that taking such extreme action has been ineffective at best. We urge governments to explore fact-based measures which don’t affect the vast majority of people and businesses for whom travel is essential."

Analysis by the WTTC shows that 33 countries, 16% of the total number worldwide, have reported cases of coronavirus, now known as Covid-19. 

"The vast majority of patients affected by the virus have also fully recovered. Covid-19 has a lower mortality rate than previous viral outbreaks such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012," said WTTC in a statement.

"Millions of people are continuing to travel throughout the world on a daily basis, whether taking flights, cruises, rail journeys or driving. Each month, based on 2018 figures, an estimated average of 2.3 million people take a cruise with very few incidents."

Guevara added: "One death is one too many from any virus but now is not the time to panic. We understand there is huge concern about Covid-19. However, it’s important to remember that fatality rates remain very low and the chances of contracting the virus, for the vast majority of people, are very remote if they travel responsibly and observe simple hygiene measures."

She was speaking after agents reported on social media that clients are increasingly concerned about going on holiday, regardless of their destination. Concerns include ending up in quarantine and unable to get back home to work or children left behind in the care of others, being separated from their companions, or travelling to destinations where main attractions are closed, or not being able to enjoy a holiday in a city or resort where people are wearing face masks.

Holidaymakers who have booked cruises are concerned about being confined to their cabins following the forced quarantine of the Diamond Princess, and agents say people are especially reluctant to book any trips to Asia.

ABTA says agents should refer customers to the FCO advice and further information on its website.


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Linsey McNeill

Editor Linsey McNeill has been writing about travel for more than three decades. Bylines include The Times, Telegraph, Observer, Guardian and Which? plus the South China Morning Post. She also shares insider tips on

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