Reducing the financial impact of swine flu

Juanita Liu
Juanita Liu
Ken Lee
Ken Lee

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL)- A swine flu outbreak in Hawaii, wouldn't just be a health concern, but it would also be a financial one. That would damage our economy even more, during this recession.

A swine flu outbreak here could keep people from around the world from coming, and make our ailing economy even sicker. But there are steps the state could take to lessen the economic effects of an outbreak.

Hawaii is known around the world as a beautiful place full of sun, surf and scenic sights.

But add in swine flu and this dream destination could turn into dark economic nightmare for island businesses that rely on tourists.

"The thing that is foremost on the minds of travelers is safety and security," said Juanita Liu, with the University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management.

Hawaii has been affected by a health care scare before, several years ago when SARS was spreading around Asia, tourism dropped significantly by Japanese visitors. Even more so, than the drop after the 9/11.

"SARS was the first epedemic of this nature and the reaction was very severe," added Liu.

Business dropped off at Nani's Aloha Shirt Outlet by 50 percent during the SARS scare. And there is concern the swine flu will cut into profits. Which comes at a time, when the once busy business along Kalakaua avenue is barely staying above water.

"If something affects Hawaii or Waikiki, we'll see a 50 percent drop from tourists, especially Asians they're very cautious," said Ken Lee, the owner of Nani's Aloha Shirt Outlet.

Disasters, whether a tsunami or swine flu can discourage people from visiting. But by taking a proactive approach to a potential crisis, leaders may be able to lessen the effects on our economy.

"The sooner the precautionary measures are put in place, and visitors can be assured they will be safe - the sooner the destination will recover," said Liu.

On Tuesday, members of the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Visitors and Convention Bureau met at a strategic planning meeting. Discussing among other things, the swine flu scare.