In recent years the travel industry has had to deal with a number of health scares; SARS, swine flu and avian flu all, to a greater or lesser extent, disrupted international travel plans. Currently the Ebola outbreak in West Africa dominates the news with understandably alarming headlines.
ABTA’s job in this situation is to make sure that the industry and the public are aware of the facts of the case. In interviews with national newspapers and TV and radio stations, we have been explaining that apart from a few isolated cases, almost all affecting health workers, the outbreak has been restricted to three countries in West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. We have reiterated that the virus can only be contracted by direct contact with an infected individual and only then when they are displaying symptoms and that the precautionary checks at UK airports for persons travelling from West Africa are very much that, precautionary.
We have also emphasised that the travel industry will follow any advice given by the World Health Organisation and the UK Foreign Office to ensure the health and safety of the public. No one can predict how long this outbreak will go on for, but as long as it does, ABTA will continue to provide the travelling public with sensible, accurate advice and information.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive