Integrated tourism group Tourvest said today it was concerned by reports in the media and from tourism marketing bodies that tourists are cancelling their trips to southern Africa for fear of contracting the ebola disease.
“Tourist arrivals to South Africa have been on a steady upward trajectory and we would hate to see that trend reverse because of misconceptions about a disease located at its closest approximately 4 500 kilometres away from South Africa. To give you some perspective, that is further than New York from Bogotá, London from Cairo or Moscow from New Delhi,” said Judi Nwokedi, chief operating officer.
Tourvest is Africa’s largest tourism group, operating businesses which range from travel management companies, hotels and lodges to souvenir shops and foreign exchange bureaux, under some 67 sector-leading brands, employing more than 4 000 people, and bringing around 110 000 tourists to southern Africa each year. It provides packaged tours to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe as well as to Uganda and Kenya, none of which has reported a confirmed case of the disease.
Nwokedi said people should appreciate just how large Africa actually is. “You could fit Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, the United kingdom, India, China and Japan in its borders. So what happens in West Africa, particularly in its rural areas, is really far removed from the rest of the continent,” she said.
Despite its high mortality rate, ebola is not air, water or food borne. The disease can only be transmitted through direct contact between mucous membranes or broken skin and the bodily fluids of a symptomatic patient.
Nwokedi said South Africa’s position of screening arrivals from affected countries and limiting incoming flights from these countries was sufficient, given that these complied with the protocols and recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. She recommended that travellers concerned about their trips to South Africa visit the websites of the Department of Health (www.health.gov.za) or the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (www.dfa.gov.za) for more information and updates. – See more at: http://www.tourvesttravelservices.co.za/news.asp?upd=1&newsID=128#sthash.gJersrHi.dpuf