Fanning The Flames


Though West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak is slowly slipping beyond the media’s (and hence the general public’s) gaze, the repercussions of the health catastrophe continues to reverberate throughout the travel world, reports editor, Michael Baginski in this week’s digital edition of Travel Courier.

Business is hurting in most traditional African tourism locales due to fears of the disease and a general lack of awareness by western consumers of just how far it is from the affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and popular travel destinations like Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

“There are 55 countries in Africa and how many are affected?” asks Jason Berry, director of marketing for the Elewana chain of hotels in Tanzania and Kenya. “Most consumers don’t have any idea how big Africa is.”

Barry, a Brit based in Arusha, Tanzania, reserves most of his vitriol for the media, particularly the BBC, CNN and Sky News, for fanning the hysteria of the “dreadful” but localized Ebola outbreak, which has claimed close to 6,000 lives in the West African countries so far.

But, as Barry pointed out at the recent World Travel Market in London, the affected West African countries are actually closer to the UK and Western Europe than much of Africa (see map).

“And the people from West Africa don’t travel to East Africa, they’re too poor,” he added, dispelling the notion that disease was likely to spread across the continent.

Barry welcomes the awareness brought by the media to the crisis, but he complains that it “has gone into the realm of entertainment.

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Travel Courier by clicking here.