United industry prepares for avian flu

Major global travel
organizations commit to work together to support UN coordinated avian
flu preparation and response.
Speaking at the Tourism Summit in Washington DC, the Secretary General
of the World Tourism Organization Francisco Frangialli referred to the
UN coordinated effort to respond to avian flu and prepare for a possible
human pandemic. “Huge cross border disasters have had an increasingly
global impact and continually necessitate coordinated action by
international bodies who are members of the UN family, with
implementation by nation states,” he asserted. “We have seen this in
SARS, the tsunami and now with avian flu and preparations for a human

He announced, with the support of UN System Influenza Coordinator David
Nabarro, a network of travel organizations to ensure that the sector
fulfils its role in this initiative and in national preparedness plans.

The launch organizations involved in the Tourism Emergency Response
Network (TERN) are - World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), International
Hotel & Restaurant Association (IHRA), Pacific Asia Travel Association
(PATA), International Federation of Tour Operators (IFTO), United
Federation of Travel Agents Associations (UFTAA) Airports Council
International (ACI) and the (International Air Transport Association

The organizations have agreed that planning for the potential evolution
of the virus to a pandemic form is a common concern and committed to: .
work closely with the UN System Influenza Coordinator, the WHO and other
involved UN agencies; . share real time information and ideas;
. give clear, concise and geographically specific public messages.

They underscored the following points as of April 2006:


Avian Flu is a disease essentially impacting fowl
. There are rare cases where the disease has passed to animals or
humans; . No efficient human-to-human transmission strain has developed;
. Public education reduces the risk of avian to human transmission.
There is no present threat to tourists and there is no case for
restricting travel. . If traveling to flu-infected localities, the best
advice is to avoid contact with live birds of any variety.

Part of this collaboration will be the development of a web portal by
the UNWTO, which provides the basis for an open industry information
network to enhance avian flu preparedness.

Geoffrey Lipman, Special Advisor to the UNWTO Secretary General, who is
coordinating the TERN project, said that “The uncertainty of mutation of
avian flu to a human pandemic means measured contingency preparation
without overreaction, across the international community and with a
focus at the national level”. “The Tourism sector is an important
stakeholder in the total global preparedness effort. The network will
help us play that part responsibly and more effectively.”