The APEC "Tourism Risk Management for the Asia Pacific Region" report has been launched at the conclusion of the APEC Tourism Working Group Meeting in Bali.
Prepared by the APEC International Centre for Sustainable Tourism (AICST), the 142 page bound report was developed to provide APEC Member Economies and tourist operators with a framework for responding to the potential future crises affecting the industry.
AICST Chair, Sir Frank Moore, said the report is long overdue as tourism is one of the most important industries in the Asia-Pacific but also one of the most vulnerable to disasters and shocks.
"We hope this Tourism Risk Management Report will save lives, businesses and jobs," Sir Frank said following the report's release.
"Tourism is one of the greatest employers in the region and this is the first time a risk management report has been produced for tourism in the Asia-Pacific.
"The report includes actions and recommendations intended to prevent crises in the first place, but if a crisis does occur, the report outlines measures to be auctioned during and after the crisis.
"Crises affecting the tourism industry can result from many triggers including terrorist attacks, disease epidemics, natural disasters or accidents.
"Drawing on lessons learnt in crises of recent years, the report is a collaborative effort of regional governments, business operators and researches."
Sir Frank said the report also takes an interesting look at the spread of what is called SARS Induced Panic (SIP) and provides lessons for dealing with potential future outbreaks.
"The tourism industry has to question why SARS had such a devastating effect when, in hindsight, SARS was a disease that should have had a relatively minor impact.
"SARS infected far fewer people than are infected by other seasonal outbreaks such as influenza, 97.7% of cases were restricted to five economies and the mode of transmission was identified relatively quickly. Indeed, measles is five times more infectious than SARS.
"Yet Asian tourism was devastated with an estimated seven million jobs and US$30 billion in regional GDP lost. Even destinations that had minimal cases of SARS like Thailand, Korea, Indonesia and the South Pacific saw a 40 to 70% drop in visitor numbers.
"SARS Induced Panic spread in an uncontrollable manner that ironically proved to be far more disastrous than the disease itself.
"It appears that the WHO travel the advisory against Hong Kong on April 2 was the critical incident for the spread of SIP.
"In the Advisory the World Health Organization acknowledged that this was the first time since its inception in 1958 that it had issued such a travel advisory for a specific geographic area because of the outbreak of an infectious disease.
"Reporting a direct link between SARS and travel by the global news media was another strong contributor to SIP.
"A number of governments began to issue unilateral advisories within a week of the WHO Advisory suggesting that people do not travel, in spite of the WHO assurances that travel was still safe.
"The dominoes fell quickly and a number of economies imposed stringent measures that undermined tourist and business travel in the region.
"These included requirements that travelers coming from SARS infected areas wear face masks for two weeks after arrival or risk a jail term, special powers of quarantine were authorized by governments, Chinese visitors were denied entry to some international events and many insurance companies refused to provide coverage for Asia.
"The report notes that while the WHO was certainly within its rights to issue travel advisories, nobody anticipated their impact.
"The experience of SARS has provided a number of valuable lessons to the region that we hope ensures that in the event of a similar future outbreak, panic will not cause such excessive damage."
AICST was established by APEC to identify and research the major issues that are likely to impact on tourism in the Asia Pacific region in the next 10-15 years.
The Tourism Working Group Meeting was held in Bali, Indonesia, on November 29 and 30.
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