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Effect of Swine Flu on Tourism in Mexico

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Introduction 

Swine flu was a 2009 pandemic epidemic that had severely impacted the whole world. This viral disease had occurred by the generic combination of birds, pigs, and human flu. This influenza was transmitted from one person to another, and therefore the disease was rapidly spread among the people. This disease had been first observed in the US and Mexico, and as a result, these countries were significantly affected by swine flu. Due to this disease, business growth was adversely affected, and this resulted in declining economic growth. The travel and tourism industry, along with the related business, faced challenges during this pandemic period. The international tourism industry was a great source of economic development in several countries, but due to the emergence of the viral disease, the World Health Organisation and other health centers restricted people from traveling. The airline and hotel industry also experienced a massive loss because several flights were postponed, and the booking was canceled as the people were not allowed to visit the countries. 

This paper intends to identify swine flu and the reason for its occurrence. It will also discuss how it spreads among the people, along with its symptoms. This paper’s primary focus is provided to the impact of swine flu in the tourism industry in Mexico and other parts of the world. The report also discusses the media and social sites that have played a significant role in the pandemic period by publishing several related articles. 

Effect of Swine Flu on Tourism in Mexico

About Swine Flu 

Swine flu or influenza is a “respiratory disease” of pigs caused by “type A’A’ influenza that frequently results in epidemic flu among pigs. This virus is the basis of high-level illness but results in a low death rate. The H1N1 virus is designated under “influenza A” due to its specific protein on their surface. H1N1 and H3N3 virus is severe among the population of the pig. IA study was conducted, which observed that the H1N1 virus is shared among the pig population in the whole world antibody evidence of infection was observed in 25 percent of animals (CDC, 2006).

Swine flu is an infectious illness that affects pigs. It is often known as a severe respiratory disease that kills the pig’s entire respiratory system. “Morbidity appears to be high and mortality low in pigs,” according to the World Health Organisation. This means the virus is quickly spreading and killing one to four percent of its victims. The new H1N1 virus has genetic constituents of swine flu and avian flu in North America. This “new form of swine flu” does not affect pigs. Swine flu symptoms include fever, cough, stomach pain, and intense tiredness, along with diarrhea (The Sunday Times, 2009).

The term swine flu was applied because some genes were found to be similar to that of flu viruses that occurred in the pig in North America from the study. Later, it was tested, however, that this virus is distinct from the North American pigs’ virus. This virus had two genes, one from the pig flu virus in Europe and Asia, and another from human and bird influenza virus genes (Johnson, 2009).

As with other influenza viruses, the Swine flu virus is continuously evolving. The influenza virus from various organisms affects pigs and, as a result, the viruses exchange genes that contribute to the creation of new viruses. In some countries, the H1N1 virus causes human illness. This virus is a typical blend of the different pig, human, and bird viruses. To combat this virus, this new definition of the virus becomes difficult for most people’ people’s immune systems (Toucan ED, n.d.).

The name Swine flu is given to a current “strain” of influenza or flu affecting human lives. In the year 2009-2010, the pandemic flu was caused due to this virus. It was also termed as H1N1 due to its H1N1 viral strain. This virus was first observed in the year 2009, April in Mexico. The people were not resistant enough to fight with this new virus and got affected quickly. This flu was not considered as severe compared to other viral flues before. This disease was painful to the patients whose immune system was already affected (NHS, n.d.).

The virus was first detected in the people of the US in April in the year 2009. Canada, Mexico, and other countries of the world were affected by the new flu strain. This virus was transmitted from one person to another, similar to seasonal influenza. 

In the US, 30% of pigs had “antibody evidence of H1N1 viral infection” In the north-central US, 51% of the pig had shown infection with the H1N1 virus. There was no way to distinguish the antibody produced related to flu vaccination in pigs from the antibody produced related to pig infections using swine H1N1 influenza. The virus had spread from pig to pig using infected secretion from mucous. Humans were also infected through direct contact with infected pigs. Various vaccines were available to prevent the pigs from the attack of swine influenza, but there was no vaccine to protect humans from swine flu. The seasonal flu immunization provides little protection to fight against swine H3N2, but not against swine H1N1 viruses (CDC, 2006).

How Swine Flu Affects Tourism in and Around Mexico

In the year 2009, several influenza-like illnesses and respiratory illnesses had spread all over Mexico. This virus had gradually spread worldwide and in the US, along with the rest of the world. However, the US economy was much hit compared to other developed nations’ nations’ economies. The travel and tourism industries in Mexico had been greatly affected (Oxford Economics, 2009).

World Health Organisation and other health organizations restricted people from traveling to the US and Mexico. They were not limited to travel to any other affected countries except the US and Mexico. Several passengers suspended their flights to Mexico, and as a result, it hurt the country’s economy. The airlines and hotels in Mexico were severely affected due to swine flu. Along with these, several businesses associated with the travel industry was severely hit. The National Business Travel Association published that 61% of travelers canceled their program of trips in Mexico only due to disease outbreak. The Mexican shopping center, bars, cinemas, and churches were closed, and the people were warned to travel to the affected parts of Mexico (Atkinson, 2009).

The deadly virus triggered a drastic fall in airlines’ share prices as the tourists continuously canceled their tickets to Mexico. Low confidence in the passengers hurt the business related to travel and tourism. International air traffic was having a vast experience of the slowdown of the growth rate in March 2009. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), passengers’ demand was declined to 11.1% compared to 2008 in the same month. North America flights saw a decline of 13.4%, and in Europe, the need for the plane was reduced to 11.6%. Thus, the travel industry suffered due to the global pandemic flu. During that time, TUI Travel and Thomas Cook canceled their flights and holiday to Mexico. The entire flights traveling to Mexico from Argentina and Cuba also remained halted in May (Smith, 2009).

There was a harmful impact on Cruise ships in Mexico due to a severe Swine flu outbreak in this country. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning for traveling to Mexico. The travelers of the US avoided unnecessary travels to Mexico (Schretter, 2011).

Several airliners had reduced flight to Mexico extensively, and cruise liners did not travel towards Mexico’s ports. The country’s country’s luxury hotels’ hotels’ business was slowed down, and only 4% of their room were booked during this period, and others remain unused. Up to December 2009, there was no chance of a large number of visitors to Mexico. The tourism business was not improved until December. The government of Mexico had tried effectively to bring their tourist back to the country. They assumed that as the virus was spread worldwide, it would help Mexico gain their visitors again because the visitors might visit the place instead of staying in their own country, which had been affected by swine flu (Gibbs, 2009).

In Mexico, in the year 2008, international tourists’ arrivals rose by 5.9% to a figure of 22.6 million. At the same time, spending US dollars by all the visitors for travel increased by 3.4% to the US, a $13.3 billion model. According to WTTC, the country’s travel and tourism economy grew its contribution to 13.2% of Mexico’s Mexico’s GDP, which was raised by 3.8% against America (WTTC, 2009).

After oil exports and revenues from foreign exchanges in Mexico, tourism is considered the third-largest source of income in the country. Due to the global economic crisis in 2008, the country lost its revenue from petrol and remittance, and in 2009, the swine flu also affected the entire tourism sector of the country. Cancun, a place in Mexico, depends on the revenue from the tourism industry and thereby faced colossal loss. The country faced an economic loss of millions of dollars, and as a result, 22 hotels stopped their operations. Several waiters, maids, cooks in the hotel lost their jobs. The tourist spots of the country remained unused for several months. According to the state’s tourism minister, the revenue from the tourism industry had declined by 43% in 2009 due to swine flu. The hotels were occupied by about 75% before the disease outbreak, but after the news spread, the occupancy rate was declined by 20% (Beaubien, 2009).

Along with Mexico, the global tourism industry was also severely affected, which resulted in an economic downturn. The worldwide travel and tourism industry was also influenced by swine flu. As a result, there was a GDP loss of the US $ 1,073bn to the travel industry providers and a higher of about the US $ 2,190bn related to the worldwide tourism industry. There was a loss of global value-added of about the US $15.1bn and to the providers of the tourism industry and the US $25.2bn to the tourism economy (WTTC/Oxford Economics Research, 2009).

Certain Regions were Adversely Affected by Swine Flu

The above table clearly showed the percentage of economy and GDP rate in a few countries during the epidemic period about the travel and tourism industry.

How Swine Flu Has Been Represented In the Media 

The importance of tourism is based on the tourists’ experiences during the period of holiday, and the role played by the people in managing the sustainable development of a nation. Tourism is related to economic activity, and any place which cannot bring financial gain cannot be regarded as a tourist place. Tourist is the main actor for sustainable development of the site (Tourismtheories, 2010).  

Marketing related to the travel and tourism industry is structured by nature and the level of demand from the tourist and the operating feature about the supplying industry. The structures of promotion and distribution that are utilized in related products of travel and tourism possess definite characteristics. This trait differentiates the tourism industry from other industries, and this characteristic is based on travel and tourism marketing. The distinctive attributes on which tourism is based include ‘inseparability and intangibility,’ which is performed to a certain extent than it is produced. Perishability is depended on predetermined ability in the short run as well as the inability to develop product stocks, which facilitate the tourism industry to become highly vulnerable. The tourism industry is based on a reasonable time. High fixed cost determined several marketing methods in this industry to manage demand, particularly the discounting prices, to gain last moment sales (Middleton & Et. Al., 2009).

In travel and tourism marketing, consumers possess three vital components: stimulus, processing, and response. The tourist is the buyer who receives impulses from the outer environment. Then the collected information gets processed by the buyer with the help of social, personal, and psychological characteristics. Also, ‘responses’ that means a set of choice of tourism products include ‘destination attractions and environment,’ ‘destination facilities and services,’ ‘accessibility of destination,’ ‘image of destination’ and ‘price to the customer’ (Middleton & Et. Al., 2009).

A report was published by the President’s Council of Advisor on Science and Technology that the viral disease had infected 20% to 40% of the US’s people, about 1.8 million people were hospitalized, and 30,000 to 90,000 people were dead (Brainard, 2009).

Research conducted assumed that advertising and media coverage regarding swine flu decreased public concern for the disease and increased the uptake of various protective behavior measures, such as hand-washing. When the governments had suggested the people to carry tissue, only a few people gave importance to this matter. The people who were much exposed to media were engaged in protective activities and were less concerned about swine flu. Due to their exposure to media, the people raised observed behavior effectiveness, which includes holding tissue and other hand gel. However, they decreased the strategies to evade public transport. The media and advertisement had positive results on the behavior of people (UCL News, 2010).

There was a rise of debate regarding the outbreak of whether the threat was exaggerated in the full media coverage. There were several questions in the public’s minds, and the media was reported to be responsible for the mass. BBC Radio conducted a program where several listeners had various queries regarding the outbreak of pandemic disease. To satisfy the audience, the press has undertaken its program and the sites with multiple questions and answers. The people were in thought that the media and government were overreacting. They were unsure whether swine flu is a severe disease or only nonsense (Hockaday, 2009).

There was a rise of controversy regarding Swine flu in social sites such as Twitter. The debate took place as how the people would get information regarding their health when the news sources became decentralized. Twitter, where various people post many messages with different subjects, might create unnecessary publicity (CNN Tech, 2009).

The media and social sites published various articles related to the Swine flu across all over the countries. In a particular situation, several vague articles were published, which negatively affected the tourism industry in Mexico in the eyes of the public. As a result, the tourism industry’s image was adversely affected and faced a massive loss of dollars.  

Recommendations

From the overall observation, it was found that the people were much related to the newspaper and social sites regarding such an outbreak of the epidemic disease in their country. Thus, it can be recommended that the people get complete and viable information regarding such deadly diseases and their protection instead of consulting this confusing media and sites, requires proper consultation from a medical person. People have to judge properly during this period before visiting any location. As there was a global attack of this disease, the restriction was developed only for Mexico and the US; thus, the tourists canceled their trip only to these places, but other areas remained unrestricted. The people visited other countries as there was no media restriction but did not go to Mexico. Useful information needs to be collected by the people about such disease. In the present scenario, people become more fascinated by social sites and media. Thus, this may be the reason for the shortage of viable information among the people. Though they are accustomed to such sites and media, they must understand the main reason for such disease and whether it is a fake or a genuine one. 

 Conclusion

Concerning the above observation, it was observed that the whole world was affected extensively by the pandemic disease named as Swine flu. Along with all the countries, the US and Mexico faced enormous challenges and difficulties during this outbreak. The states were suffering from economic slowdown as the country’s significant business sector was in great loss. As considered the considerable revenue outcome of Mexico, the tourism industry was declining its business growth. The growth of the hotel industry also slowed along with the tourism industries and related businesses. Various luxury hotels in Mexico remained unoccupied as the number of visitors postponed their trip to Mexico. The airline industry was in economic hardship because the number of flights in Mexico was reduced. The country was affected due to the economic downturn in 2008, and in 2009 this epidemic disease had a tremendous effect upon it. The government of the country developed various steps to bring their visitors back to their country. The media and advertising campaign also influenced the people regarding the Swine flu. The people were highly exposed to the media campaign about the disease in the country. This deadly disease had a significant impact on Mexico’s image, and as a result, the tourists were scared to visit such places. There was no improvement in the tourism business and visitors’ arrival up to December in the year 2009.

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