Weekly Wrap: Despite Publicity, Ebola’s Impact on Travel Mixed

Stories on the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak were among the most-read items on our site this week, but evidence of the outbreak’s impact on the travel industry has been mixed. 

Cruise Impact

In the cruise sector, a Texas healthcare worker was isolated onboard a Carnival Cruise Lines ship, Reuters reported early Friday. The worker, who is sailing onboard Carnival Magic, did not have contact with Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan, but could have processed his bodily fluids before sailing Sunday on a cruise from Galveston, Texas. The worker has been self-monitoring since October 6 and has not shown any symptoms of Ebola, such as a fever. 

"Late afternoon on Wednesday, Oct. 15, we were made aware by the U.S. CDC of a guest sailing this week on board Carnival Magic who is a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital," Carnival told Travel Agent in a statement. "At no point in time has the individual exhibited any symptoms or signs of infection and it has been 19 days since she was in the lab with the testing samples. She is deemed by CDC to be very low risk. At this time, the guest remains in isolation on board the ship and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew. It is important to reiterate that the individual has no symptoms and has been isolated in an extreme abundance of caution. We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board."

Last week, major lines announced itinerary changes in West Africa last week as a response to Ebola

Affected itineraries include the 35-day "African Explorer" on Holland America Line's RotterdamRegent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Mariner's Dakar, Senegal, call on October 13; and Seabourn Cruise Line's Seabourn Sojourn's calls in Senegal and Gambia during the 39-Day “La Condamine to the Cape” itinerary. 

GBTA Report

According to a new report released by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), business travel has not been widely affected by the virus. Over the past month, nearly 80 percent of managers surveyed said that international business travel either has not been impacted or has not been impacted much, and more than 90 percent of managers said that business travel has either not been impacted or has not been impacted much. 

“Although Ebola is top of mind across the country, its business as usual for most business travelers,” said GBTA executive director and COO Michael W. McCormick. “But that is not to say that companies are not monitoring this outbreak closely. A majority of travel managers said they either are, or plan to provide, their employees with updated information on staying safe while traveling.” 

36 percent of travel managers are providing their clients with safety tips, while 41 percent said they plan to offer those tips in the future. 

Airline Stocks Tumble

At the same time, airlines took a hit from the virus as fears of the outbreak sent stocks tumbling earlier this week

As of Monday afternoon, United Airlines shares were down eight percent, Delta shares were down seven percent, American Airlines shares were down six percent and shares of JetBlue and Southwest Airlines were down five percent. In all, these stocks have lost at least 13 percent over the past five trading days, except for American Airlines, which saw a 19 percent decline. 

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Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates on this developing story.