SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican authorities have launched a campaign to keep the fear of Zika from scaring tourists away, one of the few sectors of the economy that is prospering amid a generalized recession.
“We are the Caribbean jurisdiction best prepared to deal with the Zika virus,” Luis Daniel Muñiz, deputy director of the government-owned Puerto Rico Tourism Company, told EFE in an interview, adding that a plan has been launched to allay the fear caused abroad by the spread of Zika on the island and throughout the region in general.
Muñiz acknowledged that since the first case of Zika was detected on the island last Dec. 31, there have been tourist cancellations equivalent to 25,000 overnight stays and worth some $16 million, something the government seeks to stop, particularly considering the country’s ongoing economic crisis.
“Despite the Zika, about 60 tourist groups came to Puerto Rico between February and April this year for a number of events, including a medical convention that attracted around 1,000 visitors,” Muñiz said.
The official said that Puerto Rico is well prepared to combat the spread of Zika and that in order to better explain that effort, it launched a promotional “Summer Is Easy” campaign this year in the United States to get across the idea that traveling to the island at that time of year is not a problem, though it is hurricane season and a period with a significant presence of the mosquito that transmits Zika, as well as dengue and Chikungunya.
“We’re carrying out a concerted effort with hotels that includes the fumigation of their installations,” Muñiz said about the measures underway to reduce the risk of Zika infections.
As for the possibility that pregnant women might travel to the island, he considered that a decision to be taken after consulting a doctor, and that the Puerto Rico Tourism Company recommends that expectant mothers follow the criteria of health professionals.