This winter, once again, the winter vomiting bug - norovirus - has hit the headlines. In 2012 recorded cases hit record levels in the UK.

From schools to nursing homes, and hospitals to cruise ships, this highly contagious bug has quickly spread through all manner of buildings where large numbers of people occupy in closed quarters. But it’s the travel industry that seems to invite the most criticism of the spread of this virus amongst their customers.

Many people save long and hard for holidays, so when the media report on passengers being confined to their cabins on cruise ships, or of holidays cut short due to illness, it will always be an emotive subject. So whilst it may be unfair that the travel industry is expected to be immune to a bug that the NHS can’t seem to control in its own healthcare buildings, perhaps the industry does have a responsibility to go a step further than most to investigate and act on the preventative measures that are at its disposal.

The current methods to control the spread of infection are clearly not working, so what are the options? There are very simple technologies, used in commercial buildings across the globe that fit into existing heating and air conditioning systems of all sizes or it can be simply plugged into a wall. It’s not new, it’s simple, tried and tested and it works, killing any virus or bacteria 24 hours a day 7 days a week. During the SARs outbreak in 2003 the Chinese government standardised this type of technology for all public building and transportation systems because it can intercept and kill viruses and bacteria before they infect people. The results speak for themselves – reduction in the spread of infection, energy and reduced workplace absenteeism – and they lead to significant cost savings for businesses.

With record numbers being affected this year, it’s time for the UK to stop reacting to the problem year-in year-out and to start taking long-term preventative action to deal with the spread of virus. For the travel industry this is not just about doing the right thing by its’ customers, it also makes commercial sense. Clearly the current methods of tackling this illness are unsuccessful, so there is now an opportunity for the industry to take notice of available technology and lead the way in the fight against the spread of this and other viruses.

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