6,999,986 HK residents NOT disagnosed with SARS today!
- Subject: 6,999,986 HK residents NOT disagnosed with SARS today!
This message combines media coverage found on the internet with a message
about the tremendous impact an illness and the fear of that illness fanned
by intense news coverage are having on the entire world, not to mention
China, which has had the largest occurence of the disease, to this point,
in the world.
The message below is from a distinguished professor of tourism who teaches
and publishes in the field of tourism and hospitality at The School of
Hotel and Tourism Management of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
His contact information at his professional post in Hong Kong is:
Dr. Bob McKercher
Associate Head of School
BA (Hons), MA, PhD
Ph: (852) 2766 6553 Fax: (852) 2362 9362
His professional output and activities may be viewed, if you have the time
to absorb this long list of achievements on his website at this URL:
The message that he posted to the TRINET discussion group that is based in
Hawaii is an alert to the damage that unwarrented fear is causing to the
economy and to the tourism and hospitality industries. The fear is of the
disease Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that has people staying
away from venues not even effected by the disease, not to mention
abandoning areas of the world in which there have been a number of
instances of the disease and deaths from it reported. His posting makes
some very intelligent and important points about this fear induced
economic crisis and they bear careful and thoughtful reading. The message
from Dr. Bob McKercher has been reposted with his permission.
But before this message, I am going to add some links to published
articles and sources that focus on the issue of SARS related fear and its
impacts. This is only a selection of a far greater ocean of material that
is already out there on this issue of the fear of SARS, despite the
relatively recent inauguration of SARS as a known disease in the world.
Village riots in fear of virus
ARMED police yesterday crushed a riot by Chinese villagers terrified they
would catch SARS.
And in Australia three more people were being investigated for the deadly
virus as the nation's tourism industry prepared for repercussions from the
Posted on: Sunday, April 27, 2003
Fear of SARS hurting Chinatown, Islands' tourism
By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Staff Writer
Not one of Hawai'i's handful of suspected cases of severe acute
respiratory syndrome, or SARS, has been confirmed, but the disease is
taking a toll here.
Take Theresa Sim. The Hong Kong native is the owner of a Honolulu travel
agency that specializes in Far East travel. Bookings to that part of the
world have virtually ceased, and overall business is off 40 percent to 50
S. Ontario businesses fear SARS' impact on tourism
By LISA HAARLANDER
News Business Reporter
A suspected case of severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS in a
Lockport man and a travel ban on Toronto could spell trouble for nearby
Canadian businesses that rely on summer tourists.
Businesses have seen a few cancellations so far, but cannot yet gauge the
total impact since tourism season is just starting. So far, the biggest
problem has been educating visitors about the distance between Toronto and
places such as Niagara Falls, Ont., and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
WORKING WITH FEAR OF SARS
April 18, 2003
As the respiratory disease known as SARS continues to spread around the
world, the hardest hit cities remain in Asia. Experts examine the economic
impact the disease has had in Hong Kong, China and the Asian financial
Sars fear leaves pupils in quarantine
Boarders sent to holiday centre on Isle of Wight
Saturday April 19, 2003
Boarding school pupils started the run-up to their summer term in
quarantine on the Isle of Wight yesterday because of fears they might be
carrying the potentially fatal Sars virus on their return from south-east
While many children would relish the thought of staying at a holiday camp
when they should be returning to school, the 150 students at the East Dene
Centre near Ventnor may be less enthusiastic. They must stay in the
grounds of the centre for the next 10 days, undergo twice-daily health
checks and follow a full academic timetable.
SARS-fear pilots suspended
From correspondents in Bombay
AIR India has suspended 15 more pilots who refused to fly to SARS-affected
countries and cancelled five flights, with passengers facing a third
consecutive day of delays.
The international airline had earlier suspended 12 pilots from the Indian
Pilots Guild (IPG).
They refused to fly until it provided certificates before each flight
stating the flight crew had not been to countries affected by the killer
flu Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, primarily Singapore and Hong Kong,
in the previous 10 days.
AI spokesman Jitendra Bhargav said the pilots' demands were unreasonable.
Fear of SARS contagious in Toronto:
Deadly illness dulls some of city's luster
April 25, 2003
BY SUZETTE HACKNEY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
TORONTO -- Never before have coughing fits set off such widespread
At the sound of hacking, everyone looks for the culprit, wondering whether
the coughs are a sign of a cold or a deadly respiratory illness.
The embarrassed hacker attempts to stifle the noise while those in close
proximity move away quickly and quietly.
Welcome to Toronto in the age of SARS.
Also in this issue of this newspaper a sidebar containing information
about these topics:
SARS AROUND THE WORLD:
BEIJING HOSPITAL CLOSES
RATE OF DEATH
A substantial number of SARS related articles may be found here
SARS spells disaster for inbound tourism
By John Garnaut and Julie Robotham
April 25 2003
The global SARS epidemic has pushed Australia's international tourism
industry into its greatest crisis, the Federal Government said yesterday.
The epidemic was likely to render 2003 the worst in a series of disastrous
years for the $17billion industry, completely erasing gains that flowed
from the Sydney Olympics.
Research by the Australian Tourism Export Council says overseas arrivals
dropped by 30per cent in April and forward bookings from east Asian
visitors have slowed to a trickle.
Citigroup analysts estimate SARS has caused outward-bound tourist numbers
to drop sharply from all major east Asian markets, including 50 per cent
from China and 75 per cent from Hong Kong.
A spokesman for the Tourism Minister, Joe Hockey, said SARS had compounded
the worst series of disasters the industry had faced, including the
September 11 attacks, a global recession, the collapse of Ansett and the
And another major source of SARS news stories
NY's Chinatown hit hard by SARS
NEW YORK (AP) - Asian-American businesses appealed to the city to help
lure tourists back to Chinatown after releasing two surveys showing
business hadn't recovered since Sept. 11 and was suffering again as a
result of fears about the SARS virus.
"Chinatown is not an area that people should be fearful of coming into,"
said Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, comparing
misconceptions about the outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory
syndrome, to the first days of learning about the AIDS virus.
Eighty-four percent of 112 Chinatown business owners surveyed by telephone
April 21-24 said business had dropped - in some cases as much as 30
percent - since the first reports of SARS spreading in China and other
[Think about it, the restaurant business in Chinatown, New York City is
making news in Borneo]
China shuts stock market
Stock traders are crammed together at their screens
China's authorities have ordered the closure of the country's stock
exchanges until 12 May as part of attempts to control the spread of the
deadly Sars flu.
I hope that this provides enough of a backdrop to underline the tremendous
importance of what is said below.
Here is the message from Dr. Robert Mckercher:
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 02:41:57 -1000
From: "Bob McKercher [HTM]" <hmbob@...>
Subject: 6,999,986 HK residents NOT disagnosed with SARS today!
SIP (Sars Induced Panic) a greater threat to tourism than SARS (Severe
Acute Respiratory Syndrome)
Hong Kong has a population of about 6.8 million people. To date, 6,799,860
of us have not succumbed from SARS. But, between 50,000 and 100,000 jobs
in the local hotel, tourism, hospitality and retail sectors could be lost
to SIP (Sars Induced Panic).
What is SIP? It is the hysteria surrounding SARS that causes people to
behave irrationally in the face of a new disease whose real impact is far
less than the fear it provokes. It is insidious and spread by rumour and
ignorance. Its infection rate is geometric. And, its social, economic and
emotional impacts are devastating.
Tourism is especially hard hit by SIP. Discussions with colleagues
throughout the region suggest that arrivals are down by 80% in many
places, even in those destinations where only one or two infections have
Nowhere is this more evident than in Hong Kong, where tourism activity has
ground to a standstill in the last month. Here is what SIP has done to
the Hong Kong tourism industry, as reported by the local media:
- Hotel occupancy across the board is less than 20% with most five-star
hotels reporting single digit occupancies
- At least six hotels are now for sale, with some predicting many more
will go into receivership before the end of the (northern) summer
- More than 40 percent of all flights in and out of Hong Kong have been
cancelled with Cathay Pacific alone cancelling 45% of its flights and
issuing an unprecedented profit warning
- Outbound tourism is down by almost 80 percent
- Inbound tourism is down by a similar amount
- The loss of the Easter weekend and China May 1 Golden Week period (a
total of two weeks) will cost HK tourism US$250 million
- The restaurant association warns that up to 5000 restaurants could close
- The Travel Industry Council warns that 300 travel agents could be forced
out of business
- At least 50,000 jobs are at risk, with many companies already sending
their staff home on unpaid leave due to a lack of business
- Economists are predicting that Hong Kong will have 0.5% economic growth
this year, down from 3% growth forecasted just a few months ago.
Is Sars Induced Panic warranted? No! This is not to trivialize SARS. It is
a very real and very deadly virus. You don't want to get it. But, chances
are you won't. Thanks to efforts of the global scientific community, a
concerted effort by governments, and vigilance on behalf of residents, it
has been contained in most places where outbreaks have occurred.
Initial fears about an epidemic affecting 80% of the HK population have
proven to be wrong. After two months, this 'highly contagious' disease has
affected only 0.02% of the Hong Kong population. After initial fears of
exponential growth, the number of new infections has stabilised at between
15 and 30 cases a day. It is hardly rampaging through the community.
Indeed, at this rate, it would take 931 years to infect the entire HK
population. Most of the cases recorded are confined to health-care workers
and two neighbourhoods where tourists never travel. Almost half of those
infected have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
Those of us who live in Hong Kong continue to go to work, continue to shop
and continue to lead normal lives. We practice safe SARS by adopting such
unusual measures as washing our hands regularly, cleaning our houses,
refraining from spitting and seeing doctors if we feel unwell. And yes, we
do wear face masks in public.
Is it safe to travel? Of course it is! In fact, it is probably safer now
than ever before, for the hotel and food service sectors have introduced
unprecedented hygiene measures to try to build consumer confidence. Should
you take precautions? Yes. But you should always take precautions whenever
you travel. Will you die from SARS when you come to Asia? No! But again,
these aren't messages that sell newspapers.
But, this is the message that has to get out. The panic induced by SARS
hysteria poses, by far, a greater threat to the well-being of Hong Kong
and the rest of Asia than the virus itself. SIP has already costs
thousands of people their jobs because no-one is travelling. If the
situation does not rectify itself quickly, hundreds of thousands of
tourism, hospitality, hotel and retail workers across Asia will be out of
work. Many of these jobs will be lost forever, as otherwise viable
businesses will be destroyed by panic. The social and economic costs of
SIP will far outweigh the medical impacts of the virus.
We as tourism and hospitality academics and professionals must be at the
forefront in confronting SIP and begin to spread the message about how
little risk tourists are from SARS. If we don't do it, no one else will.
Hundreds of thousands of livelihoods depend on it.
Dr. Bob McKercher
School of Hotel and Tourism Management
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hung Hom, Kowloon,
Hong Kong SAR, China
(852) 2766 6553
fax (852) 2362 9362
The full text of the articles excerpted above will be found at the URLs
provided with them.