Epidemic risk could impact 2019 travel

Young woman with face mask in the street

Risk analytics company Metabiota believes that the travel and tourism industry is likely to be affected by a health crisis in the coming year. Dr Patrick Ayscue, Director of Epidemiology at Metabiota, said that a better understanding of outbreaks will enable companies to better prepare.

“As we get better at understanding how outbreak events have, and could, play out, we also are getting better at translating that information into business impacts,” he said. “Leveraging Metabiota’s unique Pathogen Sentiment Index, which can estimate public fear and potential impact of these events to businesses, we’re able to help companies, economies and the world become more resilient to the devastating financial setbacks related to outbreaks. And we are now realising the full potential of these capabilities and the industries they are ready to protect.”

The company’s research found that outbreaks such as acute flaccid myelitis (a polio-like illness), Zika, Avian Influenza and seasonal influenza are not one-off scenarios but actually illustrate distinct patterns. The company said that this is why infectious diseases can and should be insured, in order that resources, financing and other support can be established to offset the impact. Metabiota is working in collaboration with MunichRe and Marsh & McLennan to deliver a methodology that can quantify the potential impacts of epidemics and enable risk to be understood and policies developed to protect countries and corporations from financial setbacks related to a health crisis.

Metabiota said that the travel and tourism industry is likely the hardest hit when it comes to an outbreak: “The hospitality industry relies on a traveller’s sense of security. Unfortunately for hotels, individuals respond negatively to outbreak headlines and travel warnings by cancelling bookings and travel plans. Even in contained outbreaks with minimal risk to travellers, historical evidence has shown repeatedly that travellers significantly reduce their travel to affected locations often months after an event has occurred. Metabiota has developed solutions to cover business interruption due to a traveller’s fear of traveling rather than hotel guests becoming sick themselves.”