Tourism organisations urge visitors not to cancel their visits because of Zika virus

Tourism organisations urge visitors not to cancel their visits because of Zika virus

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Caribbean tourism officials on Wednesday urged visitors not to cancel their visits to the region in light of the ongoing concerns over the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) say they have become aware of the concerns being raised by potential visitors to the region adding “we implore you not to panic”.

The CTO and CHTA said that the spread of the Zika virus in the Americas, with Brazil as the epicentre, and the possible – though not yet proven – accompanying link to microcephaly has, understandably, caused concern.

“The Level 2 alert issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created doubt among some potential travellers to the Caribbean as to whether or not their health is at risk and whether or not they should continue with their travel plans.

“Conflicting information about the virus, coupled with the yet unconfirmed link to microcephaly, has led to uncertainty and confusion, which in turn leads to panic.”

The two major regional tourism organisations said that while it is “too early to tell but all indications are that there are very few cancellations as a result of Zika.

“The Caribbean set a record for visitors arrivals in 2015 and all indications point to continued growth and its popularity as one of the world’s most desirable warm weather destinations,” they said, telling visitors they should not cancel their Caribbean holiday.

“However, as always we advise you to travel sensibly and to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself against insect bites, including mosquito bites, in very much the same way you would on any holiday in any tropical country.”

The two organisations say they take the health and safety of its guests very seriously.

“Based on the evidence, we firmly believe that the Zika virus does not pose an extraordinary threat to visitors to the Caribbean. We will continue to closely monitor developments and if fresh evidence emerges that suggests otherwise we will advise accordingly.”

They said that they remain in close contact with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) “to monitor and research the Zika cases in the Caribbean and to communicate prevention and control measures to residents and visitors, while the health authorities in our member countries are taking the necessary steps to limit the number of new cases.

“Local populations and visitors alike are assured that the Caribbean remains open for business and safe for travel.

“The CTO and CHTA will continue to work closely with CARPHA to assess the situation, but we encourage visitors to continue with their travel plans to the Caribbean and follow the advice and precautions issued by the World Health Organization, similar to those which are provided to travellers to most tropical destinations.”

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