According to a report from the Hellenic-American Chamber of Tourism, advance bookings from the United States to Greece are picking up pace as much as to 30 percent. But there’s skepticism registering with some. But, beyond the PR and marketing of tourism numbers, there seems to be something missing. In the midst of what’s become a first-ever, “Infodemic” shouldn’t our leaders be educating the public?
After a recent trip by President George Trivizas to the New York Times Travel Show, the chamber cited US tour operators Gate One and Colette saying that early bookings for Greece were up by 30 percent.In addition, Homeric and Globus also announced increased advanced bookings by 29 percent and 20 percent respectively. This good news is in the midst of concern about the impact of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak and the escalating tension in the Eastern Mediterranean may have on travel to Greece.
President Trivizas‘ visit to New York seems to be as much a PR mission given his meetups with major travel media like NBC, Conde Nast Traveler, and ABC and his discussion about fam and press trips with the organizers of the New York Times Travel Show.
Americans are paranoid about the 2019-nCoV, so much so that New York educators recently canceled a kids trip to Chinatown over concerns. The New York Times reported how people are not being educated about this virus. The public is being indoctrinated to shun the Chinese and travel to places they visit.
Meanwhile, this Travel Weekly report tells a story quite different from the one from the Hellenic-American Chamber of Tourism one. To quote directly from TW:
“Growing apprehension among the traveling public about the coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19, is resulting in a noticeable slowdown not just in travel to China and Asia but in travel generally, a Travel Weekly readers poll revealed.”
The report said 63.8% of said travel advisers polled said clients had cancel trips because of the outbreak. In addition, the poll showed nearly half, 45.6%, reporting cancellations outside of Asia. Cruise travel seems to be the segment impacted most negatively so far. This is probably owing to the news of stranded ship passengers caught in the quarantine efforts.
The good news for Greece is that there have been no legitimate cases of people infected by the coronavirus. So, Greece and other less-affected vacation destinations may well see a boom of traffic, should their governments’ prevention methods prove effective. Still, the TW report bears the following. Philip Holland of GoAway Travel told TW:
“The full impact has yet to be seen. I think the first damage will be to cruise lines, as no one will want to risk quarantine on board a ship. Second damage will be to any part of the world, excluding China, with any warnings or events between now and the future.”
For the last few years Greece tourism decisionmakers have coveted American travelers. This is no secret. I’ve been in the realm of promoting places like Crete and other Greek destinations, as well as the rest of Eastern Europe. So, a rise in bookings from the U.S. would not seem extraordinary. Except, that is, at the exact moment Greece will no longer be thrilled to see Chinese tourists visiting Knossos Palace here in Heraklion. Every shop owner I talk to is worried things will turn deadly for them and their souvenir shoppers this season. This is the result of the infodemic we are experiencing. It’s time for everyone to be transparent about these things, and to let public relations and marketing take a back seat. News media should err on the side of caution when sensationalizing this flu bug.
Educating people as to the dangers of 2019-nCoV seems to me to be the best course. That is, instead of pretending the virus does not exist at all. The facts so far, tell of a fairly normal viral infection that only kills people who are vulnerable. Which is what just about every disease or infection known to man does. 2019-nCoV, otherwise classified SARS-CoV-2, is a new virus that doctors and researchers are still trying to assess.
We suggest that readers planning to travel or not, review the current information from the World Health Organization and other official channels like the CDC in Atlanta, USA. The current fear only grows more widespread and unreasonable when officials try to obscure the truth of 2020 travel issues. The coronavirus situation is being dubbed now, the world’s first “infodemic,” or a panic-induced by wrong or not enough information.
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