Ray Hopkins, (pictured) managing director of Gray Dawes, offers Internet Travel News his e-Insight into how the business travel industry is facing the challenges
of recent worldwide events.
During the initial stages of war in Iraq, the business travel industry at large adapted to take necessary precautions and security measures to ensure traveller safety. Contingency plans were secured and the industry prepared itself for an uncertain future.
As a result, travel to the Middle East, while of course impacted, was not affected to a catastrophic degree. However, as the current war subsides, the travel industry has been unexpectedly challenged with another potentially devastating threat: the SARS epidemic.
For many travellers, corporate livelihood depends on trips to locations affected by SARS. Although the severity of SARS could not be predicted, the travel industry was able to quickly adopt several practices and precautions to protect passengers travelling to and from affected regions. Airlines have drawn up plans to help combat the disease, looking at all of their procedures for areas as wide-ranging as passenger handling, aircraft cleaning, maintenance and in-flight service. Also, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) are working closely with the World Health Organisation to ensure that airlines continue to have access to the most up to date expert advice available.
Equally as important as contingency and security plans is keeping travellers informed; being equipped with the most up to date information can save valuable time and resources. Business travel providers may not be able to resolve large-scale international health epidemics. It does, however, fall to the industry’s expertise to ensure that travellers have accurate information on their destinations in a timely and accessible fashion. With the Internet already serving as the premiere information delivery system, travel providers are now hosting links to global agencies such as the WHO, International Air Transport Agency and Foreign and Commonwealth websites.
Travellers are urged to visit these sites prior to any departures, as often the most effective defence against abject circumstance is information and perspective. As we move forward, the business travel industry will continue to meet its obligation to be ever alert to changes in travel risk profiles and procedures.
For further information on links and updates about travel to SARS-affected regions, please visit www.gray-dawes.co.uk