>by Nicolle Morales Kern
Influenza A (H1N1) is seemingly taking the world by storm and damaging an already faltering economy in those countries that rely on travel for revenue.
Mexico, where the outbreaks were documented first and 159 people have supposedly died of the flu, has taken a hard hit to its tourism industry. Many countries are recommending that citizens do not travel to countries or cities that have reported cases of the flu. Mexico has already shut down schools and residents only leave their houses wearing masks.
Dr. Julio Aramberri, professor of Hospitality Management, Culinary Arts and Food Science says that if Mexico is not able to get the flu under control that it could result in a big disaster.
“It is difficult to quantify what an epidemic would mean for the travel industry, the SARS outbreak in 2003 had serious effects on the tourism industry, especially in the places where it stroke harder,” Aramberri says.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s website, travel industry jobs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and China took a sever hit from the SARS outbreak.
Hong Kong reported its first case of the H1N1 virus on Friday brought into the country by a traveler from Mexico. In an effort to control the possible spread of the virus, authorities quarantined the hotel the traveler stayed at.
“Tourism should recover once this flu is under control, but until that is proven people will prefer to wait and see,” Aramberri says of Mexico’s tourism industry recovering.