Paulette Boothe, knew that SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), was impacting the economy "When I got on a 747 and there were only 3 passengers". She was flying from Shanghai, China to Bangkok Thailand just a week ago, on a buying trip for Fort Worth's Gift-Treasures.com a retail gift store and internet gift business.
"When we landed in Thailand, there were 6 medical personnel, waiting at the airport gate. They took our temperatures, interviewed us, and required a written document that we were not sick when we left China".
Thus, in addition to terrorism security, and normal customs procedures, the airline industry now has to make instant diagnosis on every passenger who walks off of an airplane. In China, there are now over 5000 reported cases, with Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing have been hardest hit. About 5% of those infected die. Beijing has closed all movie theaters, Internet cafe's and karaoke bars. Hong Kong and Singapore have had "school closings", and some entire buildings are quarantined. Asia's largest "market" was essentially closed by SARS. Average hotel occupancy in Hong Kong is now only 5% (95% vacant). One entire apartment building in Hong Kong with over 200 residents, is "quarantined and the people locked inside". The largest hospital in Beijing is quarantined and now is filled with SARS patients. "The shops are empty, restaurants have no clients, the streets have little traffic, and merchants are discounting prices below wholesale to generate sales" said Paulette. "It is a great time to find bargains" she observed.
On a larger level there are major economic impacts. Boeing, A.I.G., and Kodak have already announced that's the 2nd quarter earnings will have an "extraordinary allowance for SARS impact". Companies such as Ernst and Young are requiring any employees returning from Asia to "self quarantine for 10 days, and not come to the office until after that period." The Employee Relocation Council (ERC) disclosed that 33% of expatriate executives are sending their families out of the area and that the parent companies are paying the bill for it. 27% of responding companies have latent all travel to SARS affected areas and 27% are relocating employees to other areas. ERS's VVP Cris Collie noted that the SARS virus has even added to the difficulty of doing business overseas, in addition to the "War, terrorism, and other concerns". At the very least, companies are postponing and canceling international assignments.
Could it be, that terrorism, military activity, and SARS are hindering the "global economy"? Ben Boothe, who does business in 13 nations commented that "Walls are going up all over the world, because of increased violence, wars, and now SARS. Nations are beginning to put up more and more regulatory barriers, plus anti-Americanism has grown because of foreign policy in the past 8 months." Look at the stock market numbers. Every one of the following SARS areas has seen a slippage of benchmark stock market indexes:
Country/Index - Decline in stock market index since 3/31
Yra Harris, a currency trader with Fugi Bank of China said: "The dollar will head lower because of SARS economic concerns".
Fears are rampant. Paulette Boothe had a tour down the Yang see River, "The boat charter tour was supposed to have 150 people, and there were only 11 of us. The tour company said that they were going to decommission all of the tour boats until the SARS epidemic was over". The ironic thing was that when Paulette left the big cities such as Shanghai "We never saw a sick person, no one coughed, and hardly anyone out of the cities wore masks. But when we got to one of the busiest airports in the world, Narita, in Tokyo, there weren't hardly any people, and if you can imagine, not a single line at the airport."
Paulette gave the following tips that accounted for her "healthy" trip:
One of the fears that the World Health Organization has that SARS will infect crowded areas such India, sweep all of Asia, then the world. India has reported its first cases and to calm people, South India's Buddhist leader Penor Rinpoche on April 30th sent a release with instructions and encouraged people to "keep a calm attitude and to conduct prayers throughout the nation".
But, SARS is not as tough as the Fort Worth, Texas businesswoman, Paulette Boothe. She found a way even to make SARS work to her advantage. "When we arrived at D/FW we were still wearing masks. Our tradition for years, after international trips, is always to go straight from the airport to get our 'Mexican food fix'. When we walked into El Fenix with our SARS face masks on, everyone in the restaurant turned, looked, and the table next to us cleared right out. Face masks can do wonders in a crowded restaurant". Paulette Boothe owns: Gift-Treasures.com and Buddhist Global Bazaar (www.buddhagifts.com) import and gift businesses located at 6709 Camp Bowie Blvd, in Fort Worth. She travels around the world annually to purchase jewelry and gifts for clients. She invites you to call her if you want travel advice or SARS related information from her recent trip at 817-738-0998.