Avian flu Turkey update from World Tourism Organization

While the latest outbreak of avian flu in Turkey is not expected to have a serious impact on tourism in the country or the immediate region, the tourism industry must not underestimate the threat and needs to keep preparing for the worst should it occur, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has said. “Our objective is to serve the travelling public and the world economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism, in order to prevent or at least mitigate the impact of what so far is still a limited disease,” said UNWTO special advisor Geoffrey Lipman. UNWTO secretary-general Francesco Frangialli added that the situation was being constantly monitored through contact with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other tourism-related organisations, to ensure the tourism community is fully prepared in the event of a more widespread outbreak. “Despite more cases of avian flu being reported among people, we are still at 'stage 3,' in which no transmission between humans has been detected. No tourists have been affected, and we believe the current situation does not warrant any form of restriction or other discouragement to travel to any destination, whether for holiday or business,” he said. “But, as with residents in affected areas, we urge all tourists to follow closely the recommendations of national and local health and veterinary authorities, especially in regard to avoiding bird farms and other contacts with birds, before leaving or while travelling.” Frangialli stressed that: “It is far too early to talk about a crisis in tourism, in Turkey or any other country. Tour operators already have contingency plans in place in case of an outbreak and there is no reason not to stick with them. But we advise everybody involved in the travel industry to follow the recommendations of both UNWTO and WHO and to be continually on guard. The UNWTO General Assembly, at its 16th session in Dakar, Senegal, approved a special budget of €250,000 in addition to the regular budgetary resources in case of necessity regarding the avian flu this year.

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