The Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) has reported a “disturbing” number of visitor cancellations linked to fears over the Zika virus.
“The reports reaching my desk are that the cancellations are out of fear by pregnant mothers or women who have intentions of becoming pregnant while on vacation in Saint Lucia,” SLHTA Executive Vice President, Noorani Azeez told the Times.
Noting that Saint Lucia has so far not recorded any case of the mosquito borne disease, Azeez declared that it was unfair that this country is being grouped together with others in the region where Zika is prevalent.
He disclosed that Saint Lucia is still playing catch up in terms of numbers.
“If you look at the rate of growth in tourism industry arrivals in Saint Lucia, quite frankly the other destinations are doing very well,” the SLHTA official asserted.
He said as much as hoteliers want to appreciate and celebrate the gains, the gains must be put into the context of what is happening regionally.
According to Azeez, the issue concerns not only the cancellations but the ripple effect as well.
“The financial equivalent of the cancellations when they occur, for me I find it quite disturbing,” he told the Times.
Azeez observed that Saint Lucia is the wedding and honeymoon capital and has received tremendous accolades for over a decade in this regard.
“ We need to be screaming wolf but be mindful to preserve the environment and use every safe measure to ensure we continue to stay for as long as possible without any cases of the disease,” he declared.
Azeez also called on regional and international authorities on whom persons depend to do the necessary research, to ensure that the facts about Zika are properly distilled and ventilated.
“The general public has to understand the consequences of having a virus like this and have a good idea, because if we do not put facts into the public domain we run the risk of people rushing to judgement and unnecessarily affecting the economic prospects of a lot of mall Island developing states.”