CARIBBEAN360 – The spread of the Zika virus in the Americas, including countries in the Caribbean, and the possible link to birth defects such as microcephaly (babies with small heads) have left many people – especially pregnant women – wondering whether they should cancel their holidays to the region.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and individual countries have advised their pregnant citizens not to, and some airlines and cruise lines are offering refunds and/free penalty-free changes.
But the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) say there is no reason to panic or to put travel plans on hold.
Here are 10 reasons why, based on a list of Frequently Asked Questions the two have put out.
1. The Zika outbreak has been concentrated in Brazil and South America, with approximately 1.5 million suspected cases in Brazil. By contrast, there have been around 200 suspected cases in the Caribbean, spread across about a dozen of the region’s 30-plus countries. Most individuals who contracted the virus have already recovered.
2. The World Health Organization (WHO) has not issued any travel restrictions to affected countries.
3. It’s 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 visitor arrivals in 2015 and all indications point to continued growth and its popularity as one of the world’s most desirable warm weather destinations.