industry faces growing concern over Zika virus
Send a link to a friend
[January 27, 2016]
By Melissa Fares and Amy Tennery
(Reuters) - Airlines, hotels and cruise
operators serving Latin America and the Caribbean are facing growing
concern among travelers spooked by the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
The outbreak of the virus, linked to brain damage in thousands of
babies in Brazil, comes as a record percentage of Americans plan a
vacation in coming months and a near-record proportion of them look
to take advantage of a strong U.S. dollar by going abroad.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned travelers via
Twitter to consider postponing travel to areas with ongoing Zika
Canada and Chile are the only countries in the Americas the virus is
not expected to reach, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on
United Airlines said it was allowing customers who had reserved
tickets for travel to Zika-impacted regions to postpone their trips
or obtain refunds with no penalty.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd and rival Carnival Corp said they
would allow expectant mothers covered by the CDC advisories to
reschedule cruises to a later date or switch to an itinerary outside
the affected countries.
But some Twitter users lamented their inability to get a refund from
Stu Privett, a human resources systems specialist for the Royal
College of Nursing in London, tweeted about cancelling a trip to
Barbados with his wife, who is in her first trimester. Privett said
he was unable to get a refund from Virgin Holidays.
"They basically said it was our choice not to go on the holiday,"
Privett said. "Basically (itís) a case of 'we just lose all the
money we've spent.'"
A representative for Virgin Holidays, which is owned by Richard
Branson's Virgin Group, said the company would look into the claim.
Still, many airlines and tourist authorities said they have seen
"There is no reason tourists canít walk around in bikinis," Cancun
tourist association president Carlos Gosselin said.
A Carnival spokesman said there had been less than 10 requests to
reschedule trips or change itineraries. A Norwegian spokeswoman said
it had a single cancellation and no itinerary change requests.
[to top of second column]
Hotel chain Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc said in a statement it was
working closely with local health authorities throughout the region
to follow CDC prevention recommendations.
Still, some tourists with short-term travel plans to Latin America
were having second thoughts.
"Itís the people who are going to travel in the next few weeks who
are starting to ask more questions and rethink their plans," said
Jennifer Michels, a spokeswoman for the American Society of Travel
Agents, in Alexandria, Virginia.
Data released Tuesday from the U.S. Conference Board as part of its
monthly Consumer Confidence Index showed a record 54.4 percent of
Americans plan a vacation in the next six months.
Some 11.2 percent said they plan to travel overseas, one of the
highest readings in the surveyís history dating back to 1978.
(Reporting by Melissa Fares and Amy Tennery in New York; additional
reporting by Eleanor Whalley, Paulo Prada in Rio de Janeiro, Isela
Serrano in Cancun, Jeffrey Dastin and Malathi Nayak in New York and
Abhijith G in Bangalore; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.