In the aftermath of the deadly pandemic that occurred in City County of San Diego, which claimed the lives of over five hundred healthy and immune able people, many business travelers, and even those who were not at all healthy or immune, are wondering if they will ever see an outbreak of the deadly virus again. This raises some very important questions for both the public and the government as to how we best prepare for the next major pandemic. Will we continue to encourage mass vaccinations? Will we invest in the development of a biological warfare capability?
In my opinion, I think we need to focus on all of these factors, one of which is the development of a pandemic preparation plan or a pandemic response plan, in order to ensure that the best precautions are taken, and that the greatest resources are dedicated to the cause of protecting the American people from this deadly virus. As we look at what happened in San Diego with this recent outbreak, it appears that there was a lack of preparedness on the part of the citizens. In fact, after the news hit that there had been a case of swine flu in California, the media ran with stories about the fear that this was a symptom of a new pandemic. Of course, once the media announced that there had been a case of swine flu, the San Diego officials scrambled to try and contain the situation. They did this by closing down all schools, sanitizing hotels, etc., in an attempt to contain the spread of this swine flu, and of course, they issued travel advisories to their residents telling them to be careful while traveling.
Will business travel return to previous levels again? Well, if the outbreaks are anywhere close to where they currently are, no one can say for sure. However, it does appear that we may be seeing a slight increase in the level of awareness of what diseases are lurking in the shadows, ready to attack us with large and small virulence. For example, although it was only a few months ago when a small case of the West Nile virus was first reported in the San Diego area, it was on the media radar screen almost immediately. So it’s only a matter of time until another case of VD arrives on our television screens or computer monitors here in the United States.
The question then becomes: will leisure travel or business travel to return to previous levels? If we look at past recessions, business travel did return to previous levels, but only at the start of the recession. So we’ve already seen the effect of the recession on business travel and leisure travel spending in the U.S. Will we see the same phenomena as soon as the recession ends and the economy begins to pick up again? It’s hard to say, but there’s certainly an inclination among economists that the worst is behind us, and so it’s better to be cautious than it is to be careless. And the wise business traveler knows that he needs to be alert and wary at all times.
A few years ago, Taika, the very first task spa company in Australia, was given a $1 million government contract to introduce witi therapy (tai chi and other forms of relaxation and exercise) to remote aboriginal communities in New South Wales. This was supposed to be a sign of Australia returning to its eco-friendly ways. Well, if you’ll recall, the last time we experienced a large-scale economic slowdown, the U.S. government (the very next time it was in recession) was quite anxious to cash out millions of dollars for companies that were “greenwashing” their image, and had made the commitment to go all out to become environmentally friendly. So it appears that the government might be similarly anxious to cash out for business travel return to Australia, and to stimulate the economy through increased spending on leisure and travel.
Perhaps corporate leaders and the business travel board will have to get together again and take some serious stock in the future. There are many good reasons why restrictions on travel should be removed and a significant increase in the current spending on leisure travel should be implemented. For one thing, it’s much easier to make money if you are traveling and spending money! But there are also profound business and political considerations to be addressed here as well, which I have discussed in previous articles.