Tourists ignore Zika fears to give Puerto Rico badly needed business

Global Business

Tourists ignore Zika fears to give Puerto Rico badly needed business

Health officials have said Puerto Rico has the highest number of Zika cases in the United States and Zika is bad for business. Puerto Rico’s economy almost collapsed under too much debt before Washington stepped in.

And Zika has been blamed for steadily cutting the number of visitors this year.

CCTV’s Jessica Stone sat down with tourism officials to talk about how they’re trying to keep the industry from becoming a second victim.

Tourists ignore Zika fears to give Puerto Rico badly needed business

Tourists ignore Zika fears to give Puerto Rico badly needed business

Health officials have said Puerto Rico has the highest number of Zika cases in the United States and Zika is bad for business. Puerto Rico’s economy almost collapsed under too much debt before Washington stepped in. And Zika has been blamed for steadily cutting the number of visitors this year. CCTV’s Jessica Stone sat down with tourism officials to talk about how they’re trying to keep the industry from becoming a second victim.

The local health department reported more than 2,000 cases of Zika this year, so far. Nearly 300 pregnant women were infected as doctors are monitoring them for birth defects.

But, the tourists kept coming anyway.

The U.S. government has paid for 40 signs around Puerto Rico warning people about Zika, but the island has to balance precaution against the reality that they need tourism dollars.

“It’s about 10 percent of Puerto Rico’s GDP, and it’s the only industry that has gotten out of recession,” Ingrid Rivera, executive director of Puerto Rico Tourism said. Rivera added that fear of Zika has cost the island more than $ 30 million in canceled convention reservations over the next two years.

So her company went on the offensive. It spent $ 1.5 million to promoting Puerto Rico as a safe place to vacation. It seems to be working.

To boost tourism, Puerto Rico could let its tourists do the talking.


Travel expert Mark Murphy discusses vacationing trends

For more on the drop off in summer airlines and hotel bookings to the Caribbeans, CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to travel expert Mark Murphy.