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Zika has made little effect on Florida tourism, says new survey

PLYMOUTH, MN — Nothing can keep vacationers away from the sunny climes and beaches of Florida, not even a virus-ridden mosquito.

According to Travel Leaders Group’s 2017 Travel Trends Survey, the Zika virus is having little effect on overall bookings to Florida, with Orlando maintaining its #1 ranking domestically and Miami holding its place in the Top 10.

Internationally, the ‘Brexit effect’ is still having a positive impact on travel to London, which moves up in the standings to #3 just behind Caribbean cruise and Cancun, Mexico, respectively. ‘Movers and Shakers’ making noteworthy climbs among the top international destinations include: Dublin, Ireland; Havana, Cuba; Jerusalem, Israel; Mexico City, Mexico; Reykjavik, Iceland; Sydney, Australia; and Paris, France, which reclaims a spot in the Top 10.

The survey results also reveal that 94.5% of travel agents surveyed said client spending will be the same or higher in the coming year.

“Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control announced that Florida is Zika-free, which is good news for many people, including leisure and business travelers. Our travel agents have worked with their clients to educate them and since our survey results are based on actual bookings, travelers are clearly comfortable booking popular Florida destinations such as Orlando – which wasn’t impacted at all – and Miami,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “What our survey also highlights is that the strength of the U.S. dollar is still a driving factor in consumer decisions, and London is a perfect example. So, too, is Paris – buoyed by the exchange rate and travelers’ desires to return to one of the world’s most iconic cities.”

On Dec. 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) stated that Florida is Zika-free after “no new cases of local Zika virus transmission identified in South Miami Beach for more than 45 days.”

Because of previous travel alerts due to the Zika virus, Travel Leaders Group asked travel agents about their overall bookings to Florida compare to this time last year; nearly 81% of agents reported that their bookings to Florida are on par with or higher than one year ago (22.4% stated “higher” and 58.4% said bookings are “even”).

Travel Leaders Group is one of North America’s largest travel companies – encompassing nearly one-third of all travel agents – and generated gross travel sales of approximately $21 billion in 2015. Based on actual booking data, the survey was conducted from Nov. 17-Dec. 9 with responses from 1,689 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and travel agents.