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February 10, 2016

Travel Leaders: Zika Virus Has Little Impact on Leisure Travel

Leisure travel agents are sometimes the first to spot travel trends and what they're seeing so far is that the Zika virus is not having a strong negative affect on their business. What that means for the meetings industry remains to be seen; here are the results from a poll of more than 1,000 U.S.-based sellers of leisure travel from Travel Leaders Group:

Photo by Freeimages.com/ Rajaram R

Of the agents surveyed, 74.1 percent reported that none of their clients, in their 20s and 30s, were canceling (and not rebooking). 89.8 percent of agents stated that none of their clients, in their 40s and 50s, were canceling (and not rebooking). And 93 percent reported no cancellations (without rebooking) for clients 60 years and older. In addition, it seems the destination weddings and honeymoons are being limitedly impacted with 94.5 and 93.3 percent seeing no cancellations (without rebooking), respectively.

Conducted February 3-5, 2016, the results are based on responses from 1,102 Travel Leaders Group travel agent experts.

“Understanding the seriousness of the Zika virus, our agents have been providing detailed information to their clients over the course of the last few months – particularly to those who are pregnant or may be trying to start a family – so that they may make informed decisions about their travel plans. Our job is to advocate for our clients, and our clients’ safety is always our top priority,” stated Ninan Chacko, Travel Leaders Group CEO.  “Even we were a bit surprised to learn just how limited the impact of the Zika virus has been on the overwhelming majority of our clients’ travel plans. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been clear in stating it ‘found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus’ and, armed with the facts, most travelers are opting to travel even as they heed expert advice for avoiding mosquito bites.”

Under the heading "prevention," the WHO states, on its website, that reducing the contact between people and mosquitos is key. The WHO says this can be achieved by wearing insect repellant and dressing in clothes that cover the body. 

Some members of the travel industry, United Airlines and American Airlines, have responded to the Zika virus by offering either all or select customers refunds and rescheduling if they are traveling to infected areas. 

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