Thurs August 6, at 1:00 PM ETSponsored by: Cvent
Thurs, July 23 at 11am ET / 8am PTSponsored By: American Express Global Business Travel
Thurs, July 16 at 1:00 PM ET / 10 AM PTSponsored by: TripActions
Virtual Event - September 9-10, 2020
Convene: 225 Liberty Street - October 22-23, 2020
ExCeL London - 24-25 February 2021
Filter in or out as many as 200 cities, as well as hotel and car rental class and meals of the day and watch as the per-diem calculator automatically adjusts per diems to your program. Drill down into cost breakdowns and export the results.
Amid nonstop news reports this week on the "swine flu" outbreak, some companies are taking precautions to protect their traveling employees. The risk of contagion and likely spread of the H1N1 influenza virus are not yet fully understood by health authorities and certain organizations are limiting travel to affected areas (notably Mexico), informing employees of ongoing developments and reacquainting themselves with pandemic preparedness plans.
Officials in several countries recommended citizens avoid nonessential travel to Mexico and, in some cases, the United States. French officials plan to go a step further on Thursday by asking the European Union to suspend all flights to Mexico, according to Reuters. Already suffering from falling demand, some airlines have issued their own advisories and said they would waive change fees for flights to Mexico. "As an extra precaution," some airports authorities have begun screening passengers for fever and respiratory symptoms, according to the International Air Transport Association.
At press time, the World Health Organization had not issued specific guidance related to air travel and recommended countries "not to close borders and not to restrict international travel." Added the United Nations World Tourism Organization, "At this stage, the major challenge is to avoid travel restrictions based on inaccurate information and perception."
But WHO on 27 April raised its pandemic alert level, suggesting a global pandemic--while not inevitable--has become more likely. Thus far, WHO confirmed dozens of cases--mostly mild--in Canada, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Published reports put the total number of suspected cases into the thousands, spread across at least another dozen countries.
Much of the focus has been on Mexico, the origin of most confirmed cases and deaths. Many companies have placed restrictions on or issued advisories regarding travel to the country. In some cases, firms have banned all nonessential travel, shut local offices, asked those recently returning from Mexico to stay home for a few days and/or requested expatriates and their families return home. According to Reutersreports, those companies include Adidas, Daimler, DuPont, Electrolux, General Electric, Google, Honda Motors, LG Electronics, Nokia, Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony Corp., Thomson Reuters and Xerox. With operations in Mexico, Taiwanese electronics parts firm Hon Hai restricted travel "to places that have seen cases of swine flu, and staff members returning from those areas will be quarantined for a period of time before being allowed to enter our factories and facilities," according to a spokesman quoted by Reuters.
Caterpillar Inc. also is on the list of companies taking action. According to the Peoria Journal Star, the company has restricted travel to Mexico, with exceptions requiring "approval at the officer level." The Dayton Business Journalreported similar measures taken by Cargill, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, 3M and other firms.
"Corporations should activate pandemic plans as appropriate," according to an iJet Intelligent Risk Systems message posted to the National Business Travel Association Web site. "Consider deferring nonessential travel to Mexico, especially to Mexico City and surrounding states. Reconsider nonessential travel to areas where disease surveillance may be poor and good healthcare may be unavailable."
An Association of Corporate Travel Executives alert sent 27 April did "not advise the cancellation of travel or postponing travel" at this time. ACTE executive director Susan Gurley noted that "more than half of the association's membership has complete contagion and pandemic plans, while another percentage have regionalized programs, designed to work around areas of infection."
Meanwhile, 46 percent of 163 executives and business travelers polled this week by European travel technology provider KDS said their organizations "were looking at canceling their Mexican trips, while 15 percent said they were considering avoiding the United States." Sixty-nine percent had not communicated swine flu information to employees.
There also have been anecdotal reports of canceled meetings and incentive trips scheduled for Mexico, a popular destination for such events. Travel industry events scheduled for this week include the annual Tianguis Turistico for travel agents, travel buyers and meeting planners and buyers. The annual Mexico Showcase & Travel Expo officially kicks off on 30 April in Cancun, with a "sold-out pre-event golf tournament" scheduled to begin 28 April.
Elsewhere, having lived through the repercussions of SARS and avian influenza, Russia, Hong Kong and Taiwan plan to quarantine visitors with swine flu symptoms, according to the Associated Press.
According to IATA, international passengers should check with national public health authorities for the latest local information and advice, and take such other simple precautions as washing their hands frequently, avoiding markets with live animals and consulting their doctors before and after travel to affected areas.
IATA also sought to reassure travelers by saying that "the aviation industry has been a part of the global efforts on pandemic preparedness, particularly in light of the potential threat posed by avian flu." The association noted the "advanced air filtration systems" aboard modern aircraft and added that "speedy implementation of airport passenger screening measures is possible," should WHO announce such a requirement.
Vietnamese low-cost carrier Pacific Airlines has signed an agreement to adopt Sabre's Passenger...
Travel technology provider Accelya has completed its acquisition of Farelogix and is in the process of...
Sabre has launched a new customer service chatbot designed for use by airlines, online travel agencies...