Agents urged to educate consumers about Ebola
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Africa holiday specialists are calling on travel agents to help combat consumer misperceptions about the dangers of Ebola.
In the week musician Sir Bob Geldof announced a re-recording of the 1984 Band Aid fundraising song to collect money to fight Ebola, operators said sales continued to be hit by fears about the disease.
Holidaymakers are adopting a “wait and see” approach to booking despite the fact there are no Ebola cases in any of the major tourist destinations in Africa. This has yet to translate into price- slashing, according to operators to Africa.
African Pride sales manager David Holland said: “The issue of Ebola has resurrected itself in the news with Geldof’s announcement.
“There is an education process that perhaps we as a sector need to do. Some agents do not fully understand the distances involved; London is nearer West Africa than Cape Town is.”
He urged agents to “tell it as it is”, adding: “Acknowledge it as a concern to be taken seriously and be realistic. People appreciate the realistic view; there is so much scaremongering.”
Acacia Africa director Vivian McCarthy said it was important agents were “in full possession of the facts”. He reminded agents that Ebola is a direct-contact disease, and said the focus of the outbreak in West Africa should be seen in the context of the size of the continent.
Tour operator Discover Africa called the news about Geldof’s new single a “double-edged sword” because it would bring the issue once again to the fore in the media.
Co-founder Andre Van Kets said: “It’s good and bad news; it fuels the fire of misinformation and it’s our responsibility to get the right fa