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Monday, May 11

Asian Markets Report Concerns About Travel to NZ Due to Influenza A

New Zealand’s tourism industry is working hard to allay the concerns of potential travellers to New Zealand since the Influenza A (H1N1) (Swine Flu) outbreak.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton says some Asian markets are reporting concerns about travel to New Zealand. For example, Japan’s Ministry of Education had put out an advisory notice to schools to reconsider upcoming trips to New Zealand.

It is the high season for school trips from Japan, but as yet there are no firm figures on how many trips have been cancelled or postponed.
"Considering cancelling or postponing a tour is a natural reaction for a concerned parent. But work is being done at all levels to reassure travel sellers, and the Japanese government, that it is safe to travel here," says George Hickton.

China and India have also reported a high number of enquiries from agents on behalf of people planning to travel. There has also been some misinformation in the media and Tourism New Zealand has been working to correct that.

George Hickton says regional managers and staff from all offshore offices are in contact with travel sellers in their markets to reassure them about travel to New Zealand.

"In a number of cases the reassurance they have been able to give has resulted in trips that were under threat going ahead as planned," says George Hickton.

Detailed travel information from the Ministry of Health has been provided to offshore offices to inform potential travellers about what they can expect on arrival in New Zealand. It also gives advice on what to do should they have any concerns about their health during their time in New Zealand.

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in New Zealand was cut back on Wednesday from six to five after it was discovered one case was confirmed prematurely.

New Zealand also has 14 probable cases and 76 suspected cases.

George Hickton says the Government’s quick action to screen, treat and quarantine possible cases appeared to have worked well in stopping its spread.

"New Zealand has had a small number of cases confirmed, but as a country we have had among the most rigorous responses.

"This makes us confident that we are are in a good position to reassure visitors about their health and safety during their trip to New Zealand."

All Tourism New Zealand’s overseas regional managers are receiving daily updates from New Zealand to ensure they are properly informed about developments.

The Ministry of Tourism, Tourism New Zealand and the Tourism Industry Association have also worked with the Ministry of Health to prepare a health flyer which is being distributed to incoming visitors through i-SITEs and through other channels.

The flyer provides travellers with information about how to keep themselves safe, and what to do and who to contact if they have concerns about their health while travelling in New Zealand.

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