Written by Joe Brock | From Reuters
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is putting off thousands of tourists who had planned trips to Africa this year, especially Asians, including to destinations thousands of miles from the nearest infected community such as Kenya and South Africa.
Ebola, a hemorrhagic disease which can kill up to 90 percent of those it infects, has claimed more than 1,200 lives this year in the three small West African states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and also has a toehold in Nigeria.
Although there are no known cases outside of this epicentre, many tourists are afraid to travel anywhere on the vast continent because of concerns the disease could spread, tour operators in Africa and Asia told Reuters on Wednesday.
The bulk of the cancellations are from Asia, which has had its own share of health crises, but visitors from the United States, Brazil and Europe have also scrapped their plans or delayed trips, they said.
A Brazilian business delegation this month also cancelled a trip to Namibia, in southern Africa.
“We’ve seen a huge amount of cancellations from Asia and the groups that do travel, the numbers have dropped,” said Hannes Boshoff, Managing Director at Johannesburg-based ERM Tours, which organises travel to countries in southern Africa.
He said around 80 percent of his Asian customers had cancelled trips coming up in the next 2-3 months, including a group booking of 1,500 Thais worth 12 million rand ($1.12 mln).
“A lot of consumers 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 said.
Read more at Reuters
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