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Industry survey reveals travel health risk underestimated

July 1, 2013 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

International travellers do not consider travel health a priority, according to an industry survey released today (June 28), with travel consultants surveyed citing cancelled flights as the most common concern (29 per cent), followed by government travel warnings (26 per cent) and natural disasters (21 per cent).1

In addition, the majority (82 per cent) of travel consultants underestimate, or do not know, the risk of experiencing a travel-related disease.1

This is according to the Travel Industry Health Survey, which was conducted online, among a sample of 104 Australian travel consultants.

Brisbane-based travel doctor and Travel Medicine Alliance spokesperson, Dr Deb Mills, says when it comes to overseas travel, prevention is better than cure.

“While travel consultants shouldn’t be providing health advice, they are in a unique position to raise awareness of travel health risks, and as such should be referring their customers to a medical source for information when tickets are booked,” said Dr Mills.

“There is up to a 60 per cent chance of experiencing a travel-related illness if travelling to a developing region.2

“Complacent travellers risk infection with serious diseases such as hepatitis A and B, and typhoid fever,3 and may potentially spread these diseases across international borders,”4  said Dr Mills.

“Those who seek pre-travel advice from a health professional are better placed to take a few simple precautions to avoid illness, and stay healthy while away.

“As a general rule, it’s advisable to see a travel medicine provider at least six-to-eight weeks before departure,”3,5 Dr Mills said.

Encouragingly, all respondents to the travel trade survey cited GPs and travel doctors as the most trusted source for providing pre-travel health advice, with the majority (82 per cent) agreeing they should be referring their customers to a healthcare professional.1                                                                                                                                               

In addition, almost half of the survey respondents (48 per cent) offered travel health advice without any prompting by a customer, while another third (33 per cent) said they provided advice when queried by customers. The remainder said they did not provide any travel health information to their customers.                                                                                                                                     

“While the survey results indicate many travel consultants are actively promoting travel health,                   almost one-in-five respondents do not provide any travel health information to their customers,”1                said Dr Mills.

“With Australians travelling in record numbers, making approximately eight million short-term overseas trips within a year,6 there is a concern that some travellers may be missing out on pre-travel health advice.”

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