Following the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement on February 1, 2016 that the Zika virus calls for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) would like to emphasize that the WHO has not called for any travel and trade recommendations with destinations where the Zika virus is active.
WTTC advises travelers to follow the health and travel advisories issued by the authorities and to take appropriate precautions to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes mosquito when traveling to places with a high risk of infection. These are normal anti-mosquito protection procedures, using insect repellent, avoiding places with standing water, and covering up where possible.
The WHO declaration requires an international response, to attack the problem at the source, to minimize the threat in infected countries, and to reduce the risk of international spread. Governments must ensure that they communicate clearly on the development of the Zika virus in their countries and on the preventative measures necessary to stop people from getting infected.
It is too early to comment on the impact of the Zika virus to the travel and tourism sector. Tourism boards, health organizations, and companies across the sector are working together on formulating an appropriate response in every country impacted. 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.