The swine flu outbreak started in Mexico and has spread to the United States and elsewhere. The European Union advised against nonessential travel to the United States and Mexico. But Dr. Richard Besser, acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, called that unwarranted.
“At this point, I would not put a travel restriction or recommendation against coming to the United States,” he said.
China, Taiwan and Russia, meanwhile, considered quarantines, and several Asian countries scrutinized visitors arriving at airports. President Barack Obama said the threat of spreading swine flu infections is cause for concern but “not a cause for alarm.”
Still, investors sold off stocks of companies involved in the travel and some food industries on fears the swine flu would crimp demand.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. fell nearly 11 percent, Cruise operator Carnival Corp. 13.5 percent and Delta Air Lines Inc. 14.3 percent.
Some airline passengers have changed or canceled their plans to fly to Mexico.
“The loads are a little bit less than they normally would be for this time of day, but we are not seeing mass bookings away,” said Michelle Mohr, a spokeswoman for US Airways.
American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said his carrier has not seen large numbers of requests for travel changes, though there have been some.
Delta spokesman Anthony Black said: “We have seen minimal changes to customer bookings.”
The airlines said their flights are operating as usual, with their normal slate of trips to Mexico.
Online travel agencies Orbitz Worldwide Inc. and Expedia Inc. are both waiving fees to change or cancel reservations for trips to Mexico. Priceline.com Inc. said it is matching the policies of its suppliers.
“If the supplier is waiving our fee, we’re waiving our fee,” said Priceline travel expert Brian Ek.
“It will depend on which carrier you’re using.”
The chief executive of The Cruise Outlet said his travel agency, which focuses on cruises, hasn’t seen a rise in cancellations or calls from concerned passengers.
~ Credited from The Star