February 3, 2015 – Officials from Mexico’s Ministry of Health met with tour operators from the United States and Canada yesterday in Cancun, Mexico, at a meeting organized by the Mexico Tourism Board. The meeting focused on a report of the latest Zika virus facts, the prevention and containment efforts by the Mexican government and tourism industry, and a continued practice of close coordination with the international tourism industry.
Dr. Alberto Diaz Quiñonez, Deputy General Director of the Mexican Institute for Diagnostic and Epidemiology, shared that Mexico has only 34 confirmed cases of the Zika virus, representing just 0.03% of the total cases reported globally. All of these cases are from Mexican nationals living in rural areas, far from the tourist destinations frequently visited by international tourists. Dr. Diaz shared, “While the Zika virus is inevitable in Mexico given its vast size, climate and trade in the region, the number of cases remains very low. Strong prevention efforts have already been in practice for years to prevent similar diseases.” He went on to emphasize, “Given these facts, there is no threat to tourists visiting Mexico.”
For several years Mexico’s major tourist destinations and businesses have practiced world-class procedures to control the mosquito population and minimize cases of dengue and other diseases. Hotels, restaurants, airports, and other areas frequently visited by tourists have in place mosquito eradication practices and closely follow international guidelines to monitor and control their growth. Given that the Zika virus is contracted in a manner similar to other mosquito-borne diseases that Mexico has long been combating, the entire country and especially its tourist destinations, are already well prepared to contain this latest disease.
Dr. Diaz referenced the World Health Organization (WHO)’s February 1, 2016, statement confirming that there is no reason to cancel or change travel plans to any country reporting Zika cases, including for pregnant women. With this advisory applying to all countries, even those with high numbers of cases, it’s yet another reason that Mexico, with a very low number of cases, continues to be a destination that millions of tourists are visiting each month.
Following the meeting, the group of international tour operators affirmed that Mexico’s comprehensive preparations and control measures give them the confidence to continue to recommend travel to Mexico for all tourists. Lawrence Elliott, Group Vice President at Sunwing Travel Group, commented, “I am impressed with Mexico’s understanding of the disease and aggressive steps taken to control its spread. I believe this latest health scare has been overstated and must be put into perspective. With so few cases, and zero reported in areas frequented by tourists, I continue to recommend travel to Mexico both personally to friends and family, and professionally to my customers.”