CARICOM Nations are now added to a watch list issued by the Canadian Government and that includes the Turks and Caicos; again this stems from the outbreak of the mosquito borne and sexually transmitted Zika Virus. The Bahamas, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are among the CARICOM member states named; the Turks and Caicos is named in a separate notice from Public Health Agency of Canada where pregnant women and those considering pregnancy are told they should avoid travel to the Turks and Caicos, among others.
While Zika and its threats are causing serious health concern within these territories for its residents, the Zika Virus is also a major blow to travel to the region. In a PBS News Hour article, the Caribbean Tourism Organization or CTO, Secretary General, Hugh Riley is quoted saying what worries him more than the cancellations is the missed business, ‘That is the unknown number of people who may opt out of booking travel to the Caribbean altogether.”
CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. James Hospedales is also quoted in the piece from February with, “We’re very concerned about it. And it’s hard to avoid the media amplification, even a 2-to-3 percent decline in tourism is a huge blow, especially for countries that are already in debt or whose economies are struggling.”
The article also shared some statistics on the region: ‘The Caribbean is one of the most tourism-dependent regions in the world, it says. Comprised of more than 700 islands spanning 30 territories, the West Indies sees more than 25 million visitors annually and the U.S. is its No. 1 source. About 15 million Americans visit the Caribbean for vacation every year, contributing nearly $50 billion toward the region’s overall GDP.’
According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency or CARPHA, 45 Caribbean and Latin American countries are now reporting Zika. As of August 30, the CARICOM countries were cited in the Canadian travel notice.