Greater urgency for rapid disaster response

RECENT global disasters have revived PATA’s efforts to build a crisis support system, with it considering a new Rapid Response Team that aims to improve information exchange and protect the industry’s interests.

The idea was presented yesterday at the PATA Industry Council meeting by Bert van Walbeek, chairman of the PATA Emergency Information Exchange Panel (PEIEP), an initiative he pronounced as “dead” after two-and-a-half years of trying to make it work.

Walbeek said several attempts to get PEIEP off the ground were met with poor responses, with only four to five people keen to actively participate.

Following renewed interest in such a system, the plan is to set up a volunteer team that will collaborate with professional risk assessment companies, as well as local assistance and relief organisations that have access to real-time information on the ground and existing mechanisms to react efficiently, he explained.

Walbeek said the focus was on gathering accurate data to update industry members on “what is the real story behind the news story”.

At yesterday’s press conference, PATA interim CEO, Bill Calderwood, referred to Japan’s earthquake and the floods in Queensland, saying those were examples of where “misinformation or the misinterpretation of information” had an impact on travel demand.

“We will work with the media in different ways to try and get the right information out very quickly so that we can speed up the recovery,” he added.

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