Swine flu jeopardizes tourism industry

April 27, 2009 7:47:56 PM PDT
Just as we were beginning to see signs of an economic recovery, now we're facing a grave new threat. A widespread outbreak of swine flu could cripple the already battered tourism and transportation industries.

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The Star Princess left the Port of San Francisco on Monday afternoon headed for Mexico, just as the United States is warning for any non-essential travel to Mexico.

The ship is sailing down south on its final routes before beginning its summer cruises to Alaska.

Eldar and Inna Yakubov of San Francisco didn't want to make this trip

"Oh yeah, I'm very concerned about it, I have two kids, very small kids and we are going. We cannot lose $7,000, we cannot lose $7,200 for this trip because of the problem, you know, that's why we decided to go," said Eldar Yakubov.

They've been calling the cruise line since 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning, trying to get their money back or get scheduled on a later trip.

"Unfortunately, we cannot get any credit for the following trip next year or something like that, we'd be glad to travel but not this time," said Yakubov.

So they are going, but they aren't sure they're going to get off the boat.

George and Mary Delgado from Twain Harte are looking forward to getting off at Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco.

"Well, we thought about it but I figured the ship would know if it's dangerous or not to get off," said Delgado.

No one from the ship was available to talk with ABC7, but a company spokeswoman told reporters the company is reportedly taking extra precautions and following the guidance of health authorities.

Meanwhile, travelers from Europe are being warned by the European Union to stay away from the U.S, which could be a real problem, said Dan Goldes of the San Francisco Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

"Well, we think the comments by the E.U. are really an overreaction right now," said Goldes.

Goldes says San Francisco relies on more than one million international tourists a year, and visitors from Great Britain and Germany are the two top markets from outside the U.S.

"It is a fairly big number in the scheme of our international visitors, and that's why we're concerned about this because we don't want panic setting in when there's no need for any," said Goldes.

At fisherman's wharf, German tourists Tim Fritzges and Katerina Woehlke aren't worried at all.

"Because there is also in Germany, they always speak about sickness of the cows, of the pork, of the chickens, every year something new and I don't take it so seriously," said Fritzges.

President Obama said the U.S. is closely monitoring the outbreak, and that there is cause for concern, but not cause for alarm.

In Europe, the World Health Organization Emergency Committee recommended against travel restrictions or closing borders.

More Information:

Center for Disease Control
California Department of Public Health
World Health Organization

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