Costa Rica Reinforces Measures Against Zika to Minimize Possible Impact on Tourism

The Ministry of Health and the Costa Rica Tourism Board made a strong appeal to executives within the national tourism sector and the general population to reinforce cleaning processes and elimination of breeding sites of Aedes aegypti mosquito.

 Zika virus should not be an impediment for domestic and foreign tourists who visit the various attractions Costa Rica has to offer.

The government has doubled their efforts for national protection in order to keep the situation under control and, as far as possible, prevent an increase of Zika cases.
To this end, the National Emergency Commission, in accordance with the National Law of Risk Prevention and Emergency Response, will allocate funds and accept transfers of public and private entities, and also use any remaining uncommitted funds from current or completed emergencies budgets.

The authorities reiterate with the tourism sector and as well as the general population the necessity of strengthening the effective preventive measures, which have allowed for the Zika cases to only go up to two.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), restrictions on travel to areas affected by the Zika virus should not be imposed.

According to WHO, Costa Rica has one of the best sanitation systems in Latin America.

Our country has highly consolidated protocols for the prevention and control of diseases; hence why to date there has been such a low number of Zika cases; which were promptly treated and controlled.

According to Dr. Daniel Salas Peraza, director of Health Surveillance, "as for Costa Rica, there has only been two native cases reported to date, both acquired the virus in the same neighborhood of Nicoya.”

Preventive Actions

The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) has formed a Prevention Commission in conjunction with stakeholders in the tourism sector, which already started with a pilot project in Nicoya and will extend to different communities in the country in order to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

This commission, led by ICT, is made of representatives of the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH), the National Network of Small Hoteliers (RedNAPH), the Association Pro-Image; the Costa Rican Association of Tour Operators (ACOT) , the Costa Rican Chamber of Restaurants and Allied Workers (HR Center), the Guanacaste Chamber of Tourism (CATURGUA), the Chamber of Commerce Guácimo, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Limon Tourism, and Central Pacific Conservation Area.

The first step is to maintain absolute collaboration between the Chamber of Tourism of Guanacaste (Caturgua), the ICT, the Ministry of Health, and those who form the previously mentioned Commission. The goal is for the actions that are implemented in the area to be replicated, as a preventative measure, in other areas that currently do not have any Zika cases, functioning then as a pilot plan.

Among these actions there is a megaphone informational activity that will take place three times a week for a period of at least a month.

The second action is stronger fumigations. In this instance, the tourism sector will proactively participate to support the actions of the Ministry of Health.

The tourism sector will provide food and beverages to the additional Ministry of Health fumigations personnel, as well as provide transportation when needed.

Additionally, presentations will be given periodically to diverse social influencer groups to insist on the need to continue to intensify the preventative measures at homes and businesses, as well as the cleaning campaigns in beaches like El Coco, Hermosa, Tamarindo, among others.

Another action is the production of educational print material which the Ministry of Health will distribute in communities. This will be completed through a joint effort between the regional offices of the ICT, Caturgua and the development associations, as their community knowledge is fundamental to maximize efforts through these type of educational materials in each Costa Rican home.

Active participation and commitment from local influencers and tourists who visit the province of Guanacaste is also requested for the adoption of healthy environmental practices and the prevention of the virus.

Also, the importance of practicing behavior that will protect the health of its visitors will also be conveyed to the tourism sector of Guanacaste.
Among the initiatives created by these commissions, is the collaboration between the Public Force and the ICT to provide vehicles for transportation support for the Ministry of Health.

One of the options being assessed is for the Transit Police and the Public Force to collaborate in preventive measures that will provide information on the safety measures taking place in the area along with recommendations, both stated with positive language.

Additionally, it will be important to find out the initiatives the Citizen and Immigration Services of Costa Rica are doing to study the possibility of spreading preventative print information in airports and country borders.

The Ministry of Health and the Costa Rica Tourism Board made a strong appeal to executives within the national tourism sector and the general population to reinforce cleaning processes and elimination of breeding sites and maximize the safety measures taken in all tourism and gastronomic establishments that have a special interest in the health and economic wellbeing of their area of influence.

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