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Media an easy target for swine flu scare

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BBC News’ Rajan Datar did a report on how the travel industry reacted to the swine flu outbreak, and he conducted interviews at the World Travel and Tourism Council's global summit in Florianopolis, Brazil, in mid-May. (Click to watch it.)

WTTC President Jean-Claude Baumgarten blamed the media for sensationalism and the subsequent plummet in travel bookings. "We definitely were not able to overpower the strength of the media," he said.

ArnieDatar got both sides of the story, and the other side was offered by Travel Weekly's own Arnie Weissmann.

"Government and private industry has given us plenty to report," said Travel Weekly's editor in chief. "I don’t think we've had to go digging too much or stirring things up too much.

"Nobody seems to complain when we say that Mexico has done a very good job containing the flu. Nobody's complaining that we reported that the WHO said it's okay to travel."

From travel suppliers' point of view, controlling what's written or said in the media, particularly social media like Twitter and blogging, is a fruitless endeavor, Weissmann said. But he did recommend that companies and organizations use social media effectively to get their message out there.

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