Now that the World Health Organization has lifted its SARS-related travel advisory to Hong Kong and the Guangdong province in China, companies are beginning to consider lifting employee travel bans to Asia. According to a recent Reuters article, Dell Computer Corp. has already OK’d staff travel to formerly banned areas of Asia, and "other major companies may soon follow suit as the spread of the disease slows in hard-hit China and Hong Kong." The report says that other companies, including Eastman Kodak Co., are thinking about lifting their travel bans.

"At this time it has become a competitive problem," said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, in the Reuters article. "Companies are probably concerned that they are the only ones out there that are not traveling and their competitors may be going to Asia while the company’s executives are staying home." Among the companies cited as still holding tight to their SARS-related travel policies in Asia are Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Microchip Technologies Inc., and Intel Corp.

Fears sparked by recurrences of the disease in Toronto and Taiwan likely are responsible for some companies’ hesitation to allow free travel to SARS-affected regions that currently appear to have SARS under control, according to the Reuters article.