Minister Johnson welcomes news of Zika label removal from the Caribbean

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) recently announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) has removed its Zika virus country classification scheme, which categorized most of the Caribbean territories as having active Zika virus transmission.

Minister of Tourism Affairs Stuart Johnson on Wednesday said this news is very much welcome especially as the region and Sint Maarten in particular heads into the high 2018-2019 tourist season.

CARPHA reported that the Zika virus transmission in the Caribbean had been interrupted for over 12 months, “or was at undetectable levels, thereby posing very little risk to residents and visitors to the Region.

“This was matched by data shared with CARPHA by Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States of America, which showed that no Zika had been detected for over 12 months in travelers returning from the Caribbean to their countries,” according to CARPHA information.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) took the lead of keeping CARPHA and WHO informed about the impact of Zika on the regional tourism sector.

The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world.

“When Zika was at its height in the Region, there were a number of cancellations throughout the tourism sector across most if not all destinations. I am pleased that the classification of most Caribbean countries as Category 1 (having active Zika transmission) to Category 3 (having no Zika transmission) is no longer active.

“I would like to commend regional organizations such as CARPHA, CTO, and CHTA for their regional advocacy on behalf of tourism dependent destinations including Sint Maarten in achieving the removal of the classification system.

“This will without a doubt contribute to the safety image of the Region and have a positive impact on the Region and Sint Maarten in particular for the upcoming high tourist 2018-2019 season,” Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications Stuart Johnson said on Wednesday.