t was just four months ago that the
World Health Organization issued its first carefully worded
advisories to the travel community about the strange new disease
from Asia. In a short time, SARS scared the hell out of business
and leisure travelers all over the world, forcing the cancellation,
postponement or diversion of millions of dollars worth of business
for travel and travel-related companies. Even Kodak blamed an
earnings decline, in part, on the reduced demand for film as people
postponed trips to Asia.
SARS took the medical profession by surprise, and it certainly
took the travel industry by surprise. We were unaccustomed to
getting travel advisories from the WHO. That was a first.
But we are accustomed to dealing with a jittery public. Or we
should be, by now.
Some "seasoned travelers" may scoff at the timidity of would-be
tourists who steered clear of Calgary because it's in the same
country as Toronto, but with a mystery disease such as SARS, who
can be blamed for erring on the side of caution?
It's one thing for geographically challenged travelers to avoid
Tanzania because of civil strife in Liberia. That's an error that
travel counselors can correct with maps and facts. But when people
are dying from a virus that nobody seems to know anything about,
what's a travel seller to do but respect the client's comfort
The increasingly familiar challenge to travel sellers today is
to find a range of attractive, rewarding and financially
remunerative travel products for every conceivable comfort
With luck, SARS may be eradicated someday, but it may take more
than luck to eradicate every specter on the horizon that gives
travelers the jitters.
• • •
ARTA's day in court
n this free country, the
Association of Retail Travel Agents is free to vote "no" to the
settlement proposed by Lufthansa in the Sarah Hall class-action
suit. But we're a little disappointed that ARTA is taking such a
belligerent attitude in demanding "a day in court" over airline
ARTA president John Hawks said, "We want somebody in a black
robe to stand up and say the airlines screwed you." ARTA prides
itself on a willingness to get confrontational when necessary, but
in this case it seems to us that ARTA could aim a little higher
• • •
We'll always have Paris
e sent a reporter to France to
find out what it's like, in this time of transatlantic tension, to
be an American in Paris. His report appears in the July 14 issue.
Among other things, he reports that Americans are being harder on
the French than vice versa.
In other words, you don't have to be ashamed, nervous, insecure
or defensive to be an American in Paris.
If you took France off your short list, maybe it's time to put