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Infectious Disease: A Threat to Tourism

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What is the major threat to tourism?
Over the years, the tourism industry has experienced continued growth and diversification to become one of the world’s largest industries. Now more than ever people are able to easily travel all over the world experiencing different countries and immersing themselves in different cultures. The ease of traveling presents a unique threat to tourism with a largely transient population, infectious diseases.
Infectious disease is not only a public health issue but can be seen as a threat to the tourism industry. Travelers are an important sector of the “population because of their mobility, their potential for exposure to diseases outside their home country, and the possibility that they may carry nonendemic diseases between countries” (Taylor Walker). Tourists may also be bringing diseases with them as they travel that the local population may not be equipped to handle. One recent example of an infectious disease as a threat to tourism is Zika.
Zika arrived with a bang in mid-2015 and quickly became a concern in Brazil ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Many doctors ahead of the Olympics stated that an “unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the games, potentially acquire the strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic” (Pedigo). Although travelers to the Olympics games were not seemingly affected by the outbreak just the news of the epidemic affected travel and tourism. We began to see the same affect in the United States, specifically in Miami. As of March of 2016 the U.S. had reported about 5,000 cases of Zika, the majority being travel related and about 1,000 being from Florida. The tourism industry in Florida began feeling the effects of Zika in late 2016. Hotel bookings dropped, tourists cancelled reservations, airfare began to fall and business owners reported steep losses. A survey conducted in August of 2016 “found 48 percent of Americans would be uncomfortable traveling to Zika infection areas within the U.S., including Miami” (Pedigo).

What is being done to combat the threat?
The CDC as well as the local health departments responded aggressively to Zika in Miami. They quarantined an entire neighborhood in order to spray for mosquitos and potentially eradicate the disease quickly. Although the spray used for mosquitos presents its own public health issue, we will focus on the eradication of Zika. Miami did a great job responding to the threat of locally transmitted cases within the state however it is almost impossible to stop the threat of internationally acquired cases.
In order to combat the threat of Zika, the CDC and local health departments disseminated information on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites and made sure to specifically address the concern for pregnant women or those in child bearing age. They also put out travel information on endemic regions and made people aware of the dangers of traveling to certain locations at the high of the Zika epidemic.

What might strengthen the effort to reduce the threat you identified?
Unfortunately the threat of infectious disease will only continue to get worse. Global warming is making it easier for infectious diseases to travel to other locations. For example, due to warming temperatures migration patterns are changing and mosquitos that carry the virus are able to travel to farther coastal areas such as Florida and Texas. The response to Zika is also said to have negatively impacted the tourism industry. Many believe the “hype” scared off more tourists than the actual disease, which presents itself with mild symptoms. However, I would have to say that once the population was adequately informed on the dangers of Zika and how to protect oneself from mosquito bites, more people felt comfortable to travel again. However, the effects of Zika and other infectious diseases have already been felt in the tourism industry.


Works Cited:
1.) Taylor Walker, A., LaRocque, R. C., & Sotir, M. J. (2017, June 12). Travelers' Health. Retrieved September 18, 2017, from

2.) Pedigo, S. (2017, March 15). Zika and the City: How Epidemics Impact Tourism, Sports and Community. Retrieved September 18, 2017, from and-the-city-how-epidemics-impact-tourism-sports_us_58c1ddebe4b0c3276fb78302



Rivas, K. (2017). Infectious Disease: A Threat to Tourism. Retrieved from

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Kimberly Rivas (Author) wrote: 09-18-2017 11:03:50

I had a difficult time getting my photo to embed in the article itself. The image option kept freezing and I would have to refresh the page.