Zika Virus Takes a Bite out of Americans’ Vacation Plans to Florida

Florida is a hot spot for fall/winter travelers, but maybe not so much this year. The number of Americans planning to travel to Florida over the peak fall/winter season dropped by almost 15 percent following the discovery of locally-transmitted Zika virus in Miami, according to an analysis of travelers’ booking intent by Allianz Global Assistance.

On August 1st, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel warning for people heading to South Florida after finding that Zika was being spread by mosquitoes in parts of Miami Beach. As of posting this article the warning is still in effect, with one advisory within a Miami neighborhood being lifted last week.

Allianz Global Assistance reviewed more than 940,000 Americans’ travel plans made during the month of August for the peak fall/winter vacation season from mid-November 2016 to mid-April 2017 and compared the results with the same period last year.

  • The number of travelers planning to book flights to Miami was down 29.11 percent,
  • Travel to state of Florida as a whole was down 14.84 percent.
  • Excluding Miami, which has been hardest hit by negative publicity surrounding Zika, the remainder of the state recorded a 12.4 percent decrease in travelers that intended to book flights during the fall/winter season.

“The publicity surrounding the discovery of locally-transmitted Zika virus cases in South Florida has had an immediate and dramatic impact on the intent of travelers to book vacations to Florida during the peak travel season,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA.

Well, of course this has effected travel. But, it’s also effected prices. I’m looking at a round trip ticket to Miami the week of Thanksgiving for $300 from Denver and a direct, round-trip ticket to Orlando from Denver for under $250????? I paid twice that for a ticket in June! I haven’t yet seen “official reports” regarding prices drops but based on my initial research prices are down. While it’s not a significant drop, CNBC did recently report that Bill Talbert, CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau said the area has “seen some cancellations of future bookings in late 2016 and 2017” and hotel “room rates are lower for the same time period last year by approximately 0.8 percent.”

Empty Beach, it's just waiting for you!

Now, I’m not saying you should put yourself at risk of Zika, especially since the CDC has placed it’s warning BUT if you’re not pregnant or trying to get pregnant FLORIDA COULD BE THE BEST VALUE DESTINATION THIS FALL AND WINTER. 

If you do want to take advantage of fewer crowds and lower rates I would suggest setting up travel insurance. Just to be safe…from both Zika and the cost of canceling a theme park or beach vacation. (Make sure to see if you need travel insurance first though.)

If You do Head to Florida: Zika Prevention Tips

If you do go, stock up on some Deet. The best way to prevent Zika is by avoiding mosquito bites. But, did you know Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners. If you do head into an area known to have Zika, read what the CDC’s Zika prevention tips.


What do you think?

Will Zika keep you from hitting Florida this fall or winter?

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