Americas Hotels ViewPoint: Zika Virus | An evolving risk to the lodging industry
February 12, 2016
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus is spreading rapidly throughout the Americas. The outbreak is a potential health risk to individuals, especially pregnant women, as birth defects have been associated with women who were infected during pregnancy. The potential for the virus to spread to regions of the Americas thus far uninfected is extremely high.
Past disease outbreaks similar to Zika have not caused severe declines in aggregate hotel demand, but local areas, such as Toronto during the SARS outbreak in 2003, saw meaningful declines in rooms sold as a result of public health fears.
Countries and regions with poor healthcare infrastructure are most at risk of having a prolonged outbreak that can cause long-term impacts on tourism demand. International health organizations have begun to ramp up activity to fight the epidemic, a hopeful sign that the epidemic will not have a prolonged impact, if any, on the hospitality industry.