Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Newspaper headlines a blow to Hawaii tourism

by Larry Geller


Shouldn’t it be “a blow to tourism” anyway?

The on-line headline for this story is better, “Hawaii swine flu scaring off tourists”. But I think the best one of all would be, “Newspaper headlines about swine flu scare off tourists, damage Hawaii’s economy.”

I’m not a statistician, but I’m sure that the chances of getting swine flu in Hawaii are pretty poor. Maybe it’s more likely that a tourist will get hit by lightning. Well, maybe not, but you get my point. You’d have to try really, really hard to get the swine flu in Hawaii.

Tourists google before they leave. What they find, from repeated Advertiser headlines, is that swine flu is a problem in Hawaii. Watch out, better stay home.

To use the almost non-existent epidemic in headlines almost each and every day guarantees one thing for sure—that tourists checking out whether they should be concerned about coming to Hawaii will decide to stay home.

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of course its 5 cases of swine flu and not the global economic downtown that's the primary cause for a drop in tourism! i don't see any data that supports the conclusion that tourists aren't coming to Hawai'i because of swine flu!

the main problem with the poorly worded headline is that it is unsubstantiated opinion above the fold on the front page and not in the op-ed section.

Almost half of swine flu cases originate from my child's school. Another of my children is an immuno-suppressed special needs child and another is 7+ months pregnant, so excuse me for trying to trck this H1N1 virus! Educate yourself. Swine flu is mild in most healthy individuals but can be devastating to at risk populations. DOH Hawai'i is taking guidlines from a mainland organization, the CDC, (which is consistently 10-12 cases behind on it's website for Hawai'i) for an ISLAND state.Pay more attention to WHO and/or look to Japan and the proactive stance they are taking as an island nation. Poo poo all you want ..this flu strain is not done. It will return-stronger faster and more virualant in some months time. "News" outlets stopped reporting sources (schools,etc.) of the flu for fear of "scaring" parents, tourists etc. Do not trust government agencies to have our safety in mind. Research and the coconut wireless is the way to go....Please continue to live your life,stay well by being smart with cleanliness etc. AND remain aware.

Anonymous, I'm not poo-pooing the danger of any kind of flu. Other strains result in far more deaths at present. I'm also aware that it's predicted that this particular flu may come back stronger this fall, though it could come back weaker. I was talking about headlines and tourism. Tourists don't visit schools. They are safe from this particular flu (but could catch another, of course, even from someone on the airplane on their way here).

You, as an aware parent, and recognizing the vulnerability of your children who go to a school where this flu is spreading, are taking the appropriate precautions. It's unlikely, however, that any tourist visiting Hawaii is at risk. As long as they stay away from 'Anuenue School.

The news stories don't set up a causal relationship between the flu outbreak and a decrease in tourism, only a correlation. They may be correct, or they may be not. (Japan is particularly wary, they are having a larger outbreak, and domestic travel is way down.) The headlines, however, have resulted in stories in other newspapers and could well be contributing to a downturn in tourism, which was the point of my article.

Please also google to see the article I posted on coughing in your sleeve. I think we should be teaching school kids to do that and modeling it as adults. Washing hands, coughing in sleeves, etc., can help reduce the spread of this or any other flu and save lives (kids bring the flu home where vulnerable individuals can catch it).

Without the swine flu, 83 deaths among children were reported in the 2007-2008 flu season according to the CDC. Only children's deaths are reportable, if I understand correctly. The 2008-2009 season ends in June.

Japan is backing off on its precautions. "“This virus should be considered more like a seasonal flu than a more deadly disease such as avian flu or SARS,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said at a briefing today, explaining the new guidelines. “People should remain cautious but calm.”"

No one has died in all of Japan from this flu, unless I missed something from the past couple of days. I think nine deaths have occurred in this country. It would be interesting to look back at this virus after a while and see if people have done better in countries where there is free medical care so that they can get their flu attended to. That's a whole separate issue, of course.

For most people, this virus is not a threat at present. Be careful of accepting what you read on the coconut wireless. Thank you for being concerned, by the way, many people are coughing and sneezing away and they just don't care. Your children will be safer because you do care to be concerned about this.

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