Tourists in droves are staying away from the entire continent of Africa as the Ebola outbreak intensifies.
Tour operators in South Africa are claiming travellers from Asia, USA, Brazil and Europe are cancelling trips to destinations thousands of miles away from the nearest infected community.
“We’ve seen a huge amount of cancellations from Asia and the groups that do travel, the numbers have dropped,” Hammes Boshoff, Managing Director at Johannesburg-based ERM Tours, which organises travel to countries in southern Africa, told euronews.
He told euronews about 80% of his Asian customers had cancelled trips over the coming two to three months, including a group booking of 1,500 visitors from Thailand worth 12 million rand.
“A lot of customers just see Africa. They see it as one country. I try and tell people that Europe and America are closer to the Ebola outbreak than South Africa,”
Boshoff told the paper.
Kenya Airways today announced that despite there being no reported cases of the deadly disease in Kenya, it will be temporarily suspending all flights to affected regions including Liberia and Sierra Leone on advice of Kenya’s Ministry of Health as a “measure to prevent the spread” of the disease. The government is also temporarily suspending travellers who have passed through Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea into entering Kenya, however the rest of West Africa remains open for visitation.
“Staying in international hotels in Nairobi and at the coastal beach resorts or going on safari to the wildlife parks in Kenya at the present time is considered to entail no risk of contracting Ebola and there is no reason for visitors to cancel or postpone travel plans to Kenya,”
Kenya Tourism Federation
The Ebola virus has claimed more than 1200 victims and has been reported in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea – with only one or two reported cases in Nigeria and the Republic of Congo.
Jake Grieves-Cook, Kenya Tourism Federation said: “people were initially anxious because they were ill-informed. Some were not familiar with the geography of Africa and seemed to think of it as a country rather than a continent! They did not fully realise that countries on the West Coast are very far away from Kenya in East Africa. Others were not aware that Ebola can be transmitted only by direct contact with people suffering from the severe symptoms of Ebola in the final stages of the disease or from contact with dead bodies.”
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