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Published on : Saturday, August 6, 2016
Pregnant women, the CDC said, should stay away from the trendy Wynwood neighbourhood of Miami due to the presence of mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, which can cause microcephaly, a tragic birth defect. CDC Director Tom Frieden said the advisory could last a full year.
With state and local officials already investigating another case outside the warning’s one-square-mile area, Zika could deal a terrible blow to the more than 1.2 million people in Florida’s $82 billion tourism industry.
The question of the moment – besides figuring out how best to eradicate the Zika-carrying Ades Aegypti mosquito – is whether the industry can calm nervous travellers planning trips to Florida in the fall and winter, including the millions of cruisers who pass through Port Miami, the number one cruise/passenger port in the world, every year.
“As the situation continues to evolve, we recommend that visitors consult official sources. Current travel safety information can be found at VisitFlorida.com,” said Will Secombe, president and CEO of Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation.
Pointing out that the Zika warning is limited to just one of Florida’s 65,000 square miles, Secombe said, “We have complete confidence in the Zika response efforts of state and local authorities, and we continue to work with our industry partners to ensure that visitors have the information they need to make travel planning decisions.”
The Orlando Convention Center, which draws 1.4 million visitors to 200 conventions every year, has had no cancellations, spokeswoman Gwen Wilson said.
Orlando is the top tourist destination in the U.S. Located in central Florida, it welcomed 66 million visitors last year. “No locally acquired cases of Zika have been reported in our region,” said George Aguel, president and CEO of VisitOrlando. “And we have every confidence in our county’s public health system and its ability to manage any developments swiftly and effectively.”