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Incentives cancelled due to Zika virus, say Site members

Programmes in the Americas have seen attendee numbers reduced, while others are cancelled or relocated

Pictured: The Zika virus has spread in the Americas

Members of incentive travel association Site (the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence), have reported ‘several’ cancellations due to the spread of the Zika virus in the Americas.

An outbreak of the virus, which is transmitted via mosquitos, began in Brazil last year and has since spread with cases also reported in countries such as Colombia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Honduras. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the disease linked to the Zika virus, microcephaly, a condition with which babies are born with underdeveloped brains, an international public health emergency.

In its latest blog, Site says it has noted a fall in incentive attendance in affected areas, in addition to cancellations and relocations.

“However, at this time the vast majority of clients are moving forward with incentive travel programs to destinations where there have been confirmed cases of the virus,” it added.

Site also recommended for those headed to the Americas to consult the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control for further advice.

Mary MacGregor, VP – Travel Group at BI Worldwide, said: “BI Worldwide has not cancelled or relocated any events due to client concerns about the Zika virus, nor have we changed destination recommendations for Brazil, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, or any other destination with a Zika outbreak warning. For programs that are operating in affected countries, we are working closely with the hotels to ensure all precautions are being taken and are being communicated to guests. We are also working with our clients to ensure that information and updates are sent to all attendees.”

Destination management companies in the Caribbean have also noted that clients have raised concerns. Genaro Almonte, managing director of IVI DMC in the Dominican Republic, added: “We have not received any cancellations from any groups; however a couple of groups have cancelled five to 10 participants, mostly women in early pregnancy. The local authorities are closely following the indications from the experts and international entities and this has helped our island to have a very low impact in the population. So far we have not had any case of visitors getting the virus in any of our resort areas.” 

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