Zika virus has a lot of people worried about travel to tropical destinations but, as usual, media coverage has spun the general nervousness into a frenzy. Travel agents, who are booking vacations every day have a different story to tell about Zika’s effect on people and their vacations.
A survey by Travel Leaders, a consortia of travel agents, found that Zika was having a minimal effect on plans.
When asked “How many clients are canceing their travel plans because of the Zika virus,” 74.1 percent of Travel Leaders Group’s travel agents reported “none” for clients in their 20s and 30s; 89.8 percent stated no cancellations for clients in their 40s and 50s; and 93 percent stated there are no cancellations for clients 60 years and older.
Using a travel agent is one way to ensure that you are making an informed decision about your vacation plans.
“Understanding the seriousness of the Zika virus, our agents have been providing detailed information to their clients over the course of the last few months – particularly to those who are pregnant or may be trying to start a family – so that they may make informed decisions about their travel plans. Our job is to advocate for our clients, and our clients’ safety is always our top priority,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “Even we were a bit surprised to learn just how limited the impact of the Zika virus has been on the overwhelming majority of our clients’ travel plans. The World Health Organization has been clear in stating it ‘found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to prevent the spread of Zika virus’ and, armed with the facts, most travelers are opting to travel even as they heed expert advice for avoiding mosquito bites.”
Still, Zika hasn’t had zero effect. Some travel agents have reported that their clients have been unsure of what to do about their plans.
Jolie Goldring, a Luxury Travel Consultant with In The Know Experiences in New York City, told TravelPulse.com that some clients are nervous.
“I had some people going to so-called safe islands and they were questioning if Zika was there,” she said.
“They (are possibly) going to lose their hard-earned money if they do not go. However, they want to enjoy themselves without being concerned or stressed.”
Travel agents are staying abreast of the issue and paying attention to areas affected by the transmission of the virus. They are also in touch with operators on the ground in destinations that could be affected by its spread. Whether you are trying to avoid destinations that are affected by Zika or are wanting to learn how to protect your trip in case the destination you booked is suddenly on the list of affected destinations, a travel agent is going to be one of the best resources.
Travel agents can also help you to purchase the correct insurance that will cover travel to areas that are or could be affected by Zika. Those who have cancel-for-any-reason policies that were purchased before the outbreak are most likely covered by their plans.
Many major airlines and cruise lines are offering refunds for those nervous to travel in Zika zones. JetBlue is giving refunds to all of its customers. United and American were less forgiving and only offering refunds women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant and their travel companions.
Several cruise lines are also allowing clients to change their plans or request credit for a future cruise.