The spread of COVID-19 has created uncertainty in the global travel community and is affecting inbound travel to the United States, specifically from our No. 3 overseas market, China. Travel to and from China has temporarily halted, U.S. airlines have suspended hundreds of flights and global supply chains have been disrupted.
Some of the world’s most visited sites, as well as some of America’s most popular cities for inbound Chinese visitation, have reported near-term declines due to the current restrictions on travel to and from China.
While public health authorities study and combat the virus, it’s important for all involved in the U.S. travel and tourism field to heed and share the advice of health officials, but also communicate the current fact that the risk to Americans remains low, with no restrictions on travel anywhere other than to and from mainland China. Travel within the United States can and should continue to thrive.
It is absolutely a challenge to be monitored, studied and addressed, much as we did under similar circumstances when outbreaks of Zika, Ebola, Swine and Bird flu, and others threatened our industry.
U.S. Travel is engaging regularly with public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health and Human Services (HHS) and others, who play critical roles in informing the public and providing guidance for travelers and the travel industry.
Our association has also been highly engaged with the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, and remains in regular contact not only with the official health agencies noted above, but also with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. We are closely monitoring key developments while we await industry impact indications from January inbound travel which will be captured in our Travel Trends Index report, scheduled for release on March 3.
We will continue to emphasize the advice and guidance for travelers offered by public health officials—and urge our industry to do the same as appropriate through their channels to consumers—which at the moment is similar to counsel during U.S. flu seasons:
- Wash hands often
- Cough into your elbow and sneeze into a tissue
- Consult with a doctor before traveling when sick
- Stay up-to-date on vaccinations
- Avoid contact with people who are already sick
- Avoid contact with animals while traveling
- Be aware of latest travel advisories from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State
We all hope this global health crisis will soon be resolved, and we will continue working with our industry partners and public health officials to keep the traveling public informed.
Please refer to U.S. Travel's Emergency Preparedness and Response: Coronavirus toolkit for message points and guidance on responding to this evolving situation. These materials for our industry are updated on a weekly basis or more frequently as new information becomes available.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.