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Swine flu or SARS 2? Alert from Hotel Lawyers

27 April 2009

Hotel Lawyer with breaking concerns over a flu pandemic. International fears of a flu pandemic rose today as the death toll from swine flu in Mexico rose to 149. Cases have also been reported in the United States, Canada, Spain and New Zealand. What does this mean for the lodging industry and the economy?

It is too early to know what this all means.

On Sunday, Hong Kong called for a travel ban on trips to Mexico and U.S. cities with confirmed cases of flu. Today, U.S. officials advised Americans against most travel to Mexico, and European Union health officials have called for a ban on all nonessential travel to the U.S. and Mexico.

Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, called the advisory against traveling to the United States unwarranted, saying that only a small number of cases had been diagnosed in the country, just one of which required hospitalization.

Update on the flu epidemic

As of Monday afternoon, April 27, 2009:

  • In Mexico: 149 deaths attributed to flu, 1,600 people sickened
  • In the U.S.: 40 confirmed cases with outbreaks in California, New York, Texas, Ohio
  • Confirmed or suspected cases now in Canada, France, New Zealand, Spain
  • World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic alert for swine flu by one level to “phase 4” (2 steps short of a full pandemic) but at the same time recommended that borders not be closed nor travel bans imposed

[Click here for More information about the World Health Organization “Phase 4” rating on the threat of a flu pandemic.]
Concerns about the potential economic impact of a serious pandemic affected stock markets around the world. Companies in the travel and lodging business were particularly affected, including all the major airlines. Hopefully concerns over the pandemic will prove greatly overblown, but there will likely be a negative effect on lodging and travel for a while. Does anyone remember SARS in 2003 and its affects?

The American Hotel & Lodging Association is taking this seriously, and has a link for current information on the Swine Influenza Information.

Stay tuned. I think we will all be more affected by this “event” than we might initially think. The lodging industry does not need another “reason” for people to quit traveling and staying in hotels but it looks like it is upon us anyway.

This is Jim Butler, author of and hotel lawyer, signing off. We’ve done more than $87 billion of hotel transactions and have developed innovative solutions to unlock value from troubled hotel transactions. Who’s your hotel lawyer?

Our Perspective. We represent hotel lenders, owners and investors. We have helped our clients find business and legal solutions for more than $125 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 4,700 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at or 310.201.3526.

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