U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement in response to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s announcement that the final active-zone status for Zika transmission will be lifted:
“This is the update we’ve been awaiting for some time, one that reflects the dedicated, hard work Florida state officials have done to contain Zika. I commend Governor Scott and the Florida Department of Health for their attention to this issue, and for all of their initiatives to educate the public, spray for mosquitoes, and ensure citizens and travelers alike were protected.
“My hope is that governments at every level can learn from this episode, and work to ensure that the next time there is cause for concern over a public health problem—be it Zika or something else—the affected citizenry and the traveling public can have confidence that the resources are in place for authorities to stay well ahead of the issue. I reiterate that Florida officials did a very competent and professional job under a tough set of circumstances, but the uncertainty over Zika lingered for too long in the absence of decisive action at the federal level—grateful as we are that policymakers in Washington did eventually pass a robust assistance package that has helped bring about today’s happy news. We also hope that efforts will continue apace toward the expected Zika vaccine, so we can put this particular health concern behind us once and for all.
“The Zika transmission zone lifted today represents the last of a very, very small area of active transmission, relative to the size of Florida—a total of 4.5 square miles out of over 66,000. As with many public health issues in the past, perception is key. As long as our governments continue to ensure that resources and protocols are in place to contain the next public health problem before it reaches a critical stage, we can rest assured that travelers will not be deterred, and local economies will continue to thrive.”