Zika’s Impact on American Travel Plans Minimal

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zika virusZika – an illness typically transmitted by mosquitoes – has been in the news over the past year for the risks it poses to women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant. While this select group is being warned against traveling to destinations with cases of Zika that have been confirmed as locally-transmitted by mosquitoes, most Americans are going ahead with their travel plans this year by an overwhelming majority, aware of but largely unconcerned by the Zika virus, according to a new national survey.

Travel Leaders Group, the largest traditional travel agency company in North America, conducted the poll of 3,431 consumers in April. Among the respondents, 87 percent had heard about the virus but the vast majority, 96 percent, said that it would not affect their travel plans in 2016.

The recently released results are consistent with an earlier survey Travel Leaders conducted in February with 1,102 of its agents, asking them whether their clients had canceled, altered or delayed plans due to the virus. They reported that Zika’s impact on travel has been minimal. The vast majority of clients, regardless of the age range they fall into, are deciding to continue with their travel plans.

When asked how many of their clients were canceling travel plans because of the virus, 74.1 percent reported “none” for those in their 20s and 30s; 89.8 percent said there were no cancellations for clients in their 40s and 50s; and 93 percent reported no cancellations for clients 60 and older. When it comes to destination weddings, 94.5 percent of travel agents reported no cancellations and 93.3 percent had no cancellations for clients who were going on their honeymoon.

The survey results indicate that Americans are fairly well educated about the virus, whether they’re getting reports from the news media, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or from conversations with their travel agents, which are occurring on a daily basis.

Travel Leaders agents are advocates for their clients, and safety is always the top priority. These travel experts are constantly keeping abreast of anything that could potentially affect their clients, so that they can pass information along to them. Armed with those details, clients can make informed decisions and feel confident about their travel plans. Their travel agents wouldn’t have it any other way.

Among the information that travelers should be aware of are the simple precautions that the CDC, and other public health officials, suggest people take to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, whether they’re heading someplace in the United States or abroad.

The steps recommended by the CDC include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, making sure that their hotel has air conditioning or screens on windows or doors, and using EPA-registered insect repellents that have been proven safe and effective. The CDC recommends repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Sunscreen should be applied first, then insect repellent. Also, travelers should bring repellent with them, in case it’s not readily available at their destination.

In addition, the CDC suggests that for an extra layer of protection travelers may want to treat their clothes, such as boots, pants and socks, with permethrin or another EPA-recommended insecticide. (You can buy pre-treated gear or clothing or treat them yourself.)
For help planning a vacation, honeymoon or destination wedding anywhere in the world, contact your travel agent.

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