No travel restrictions recommended as Zika spreads


INTERNATIONAL tourism bodies are in agreement with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) stand that there should be no hard restrictions on travel to areas affected by the Zika virus.

On February 1, 2016, WHO declared the Zika situation a public health emergency of international concern, but stopped short of declaring any sort of travel ban.

However, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) both recommended adherence to travel and health advisories issued by local authorities, and to take appropriate precautions such as using insect repellent, avoiding places with standing water and covering up where possible.

“It is too early to comment on the impact of the Zika virus to the travel and tourism sector,” stated the WTTC in a release, adding that most airlines, cruise lines and tour operators from originating countries are being flexible, by offering alternative plans or refunds to pregnant women and their families who prefer not to travel to affected areas at this time.

The UNWTO concurs, stating: “As per the impact on the tourism sector, it is too early to make any effective assessment considering the evolving nature of the situation.”

The organisation does recommend certain precautionary measures, such as the disinfection of aircraft and airports per WHO guidelines, and providing travellers to areas where the Zika virus is active up-to-date information and relevant advice.

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