Role of travel industry professionals
Tour operators, travel agents, airline and shipping companies each have an important responsibility to safeguard the health of travellers. It is in the interests of the travel industry that travellers have the fewest possible problems when travelling to, and visiting, foreign countries. Contact with travellers before the journey provides a unique opportunity to inform them of the situation in each of the countries they are visiting. The travel agent or tour operator should provide travellers with the following health-related guidance (or the tools to access this information):
- Advise travellers to consult a travel medicine clinic or medical practitioner as soon as possible after planning a trip to any destination where significant health risks may be foreseen, particularly those in developing countries, preferably 4–8 weeks before departure.
- Advise last-minute travellers to visit to a travel medicine clinic or medical practitioner, which can be done as late as the day before or day of departure.
- Inform travellers of any particular hazards to personal safety and security presented by the destination and suggest appropriate precautions including checking authoritative web sites (http://www.who.int/ith/links/national_links/ en/index.html) on a regular basis.
- Encourage travellers to take out comprehensive travellers’ health insurance and provide information on available policies.
- Inform travellers of the procedures for obtaining assistance and reimbursement, particularly if the insurance policy is arranged by the travel agent or company.