Talking Points to Counter the Swine Flu Panic
Here are some talking points to use with your customers should they express concerns about the disease. AOA is a member of the U.S. Travel Association, which provided these points for use in discussing the issue with the media and others. Ironically, malaria kills more than 1 million people annually, but fewer than 200 deaths from this treatable disease, has led to dire warnings by some “health ministers”. Certainly, precautions are advisable, but the disease should not disrupt travel plans.
• The World Health Organization reiterated today that there are no recommended travel restrictions related to the swine.
• The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. now stands at 91, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
What Health Experts Are Saying
• “Travel restrictions are unnecessary and based on political, not medical considerations.”
- Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization;
April 28, 2009
• “[Experts] recommend not closing borders or restricting travel… With the virus being widespread... closing borders or restricting travel really has very little effect in stopping the movement of this virus.”
- Dr. Keiji Fukuda, Deputy Director-General, World Health Organization;
April 28, 2009
• "The name of the game is to slow transmission until a well-matched vaccine can be made and distributed. I am fairly optimistic we can do that."
-Dr. Ira Longini, Hutchison Research Center, April 28, 2009
• Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/?cid=swineFlu_outbreak_001
Repeal of Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, S. 868 Introduced in the Senate
The Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act of 2009, was introduced last week by Senators Baucus, Tester and Crapo. The bill repeals all recreation fees for use of recreation facilities for the general public except at specific amenity sites in National Parks. Currently, the bill does not provide the authority for agencies to charge for use of campground facilities in National Forests and in BLM managed areas. However, the bill is a placeholder, meaning an entirely new bill will be substituted prior to mark-up, assuming it gets that far. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act is the authority under which outfitter permits are issued and the fees retained by the managing agencies. Under the repeal bill, that authority would revert to Land and Water Conservation Fund with no authority for the agencies to retain more than 15% of the permit fees.
Rep. Minnick (D-ID) is said to be planning to introduce the bill in the House of Representatives. There does not appear to be sufficient support for this bill to pass in the House. The Democratic leadership in Congress is considering re-instituting PayGo because of ballooning federal deficits. If that occurs, the bill will have to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office as deficit neutral or it will have to paid for with additional revenues. Fees on "commercial activities" have been used for offsetting revenues in some legislation under PayGo.
The bill’s chance for passage will improve if Senate Democrats use the Budget Reconciliation process as a vehicle for controversial legislation. S. 868 could be buried in that bill. During the 1990’s Republicans used the same tactic, burying concessions reform in a 900 page budget reconciliation bill, which President Clinton later vetoed.
AOA plans to work with the bill’s sponsors to include provisions that were in the original Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to prevent layering of additional fees on the outfitted public. We also anticipate making it clear that permit fees should be used for permit administration.