The APEC Tourism Working Group (TWG) has issued a "Statement on the Impact of SARS on Tourism in the APEC Region" at the conclusion of the 22nd TWG meeting today in, Pattaya, Thailand.
The Statement compliments the "underlying resilience of travel and tourism in the Asia-Pacific region despite recent economic, health and other setbacks," but notes that restoring traveler confidence will depend on clear and accurate public information.
"Although the incidence of SARS may be diminishing, there is evidence that impacts will be felt for some time, as bookings may remain low for some months to come."
"TWG officials are aware that the media need to be kept informed of the measures being taken to enhance traveler security in the APEC region. The TWG recognizes the important role that media and government advisory messages can play in gaining the confidence of travelers."
The TWG officials also made note that economic statistics, including the predicted decline in tourism employment in selected economies of between 12 and 41 per cent, do not always clearly reflect the social cost of economic downturns as has been triggered by SARS.
"TWG officials are keenly aware that the negative impacts on GDP and other economic indicators do not capture the social impacts from job losses and company failures in the APEC region."
The TWG meeting was the first major APEC event to take place since the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade issued the SARS Action Plan in Khon Kaen, Thailand, last week.
In response to the SARS Action plan, the TWG will now undertake a research and analysis project on how governments and tourism operators can best manage risk and respond to crises such as the Bali terrorist bombing and SARS.
To be completed by the end of September 2003, the APEC project is co-funded by AusAID, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and is led by the APEC International Centre for Sustainable Tourism (AICST).
The 22nd Tourism Working Group (TWG) met on June 10-11 in Pattaya, after being postponed from in April due to the SARS outbreak.
The TWG outcomes will be reported to the APEC Health Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on 28 June 2003.
The 23rd TWG will be held in Bali in October 2003.