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Travel + Disease Outbreaks and What is Possible

Posted On: April 28, 2017

The weeks and months before a trip can be hectic.

Gathering what you’ll bring with you and counting down the days before your travel reward is exciting and makes all the effort worthwhile. Then, unfortunately, news of a disease outbreak threatens to derail your participation or enjoyment of the carefully planned program.

At Docherty Incentives & Meetings, we don’t take chances with our program participants’ health. We sort out fact from fiction when it comes to infectious disease and global travel. By staying informed through reliable sources, we avoid getting caught up in rumors to ensure we’re helping our participants have a safe, healthy, enjoyable rewards trip.

Zika in the News

This past year, news about Zika outbreaks in Florida kept many people from taking a trip to Disney World or even visiting the Florida Keys. Zika is transmitted through a bite by an infected mosquito or through unprotected sex with someone who has Zika and has traveled or lived in tropical regions such as South America, India and sub-Saharan Africa.

While it is a serious illness that can cause birth defects and is therefore especially dangerous to young women, only 216 people in Florida contracted Zika locally in the past two years. Travelers have a greater chance of contracting the norovirus from their children and being sidelined by a stomach bug than being infected with Zika. Having the facts about epidemics, including where they are and whom they affect, is a critical component of how the Docherty staff takes care of the teams we send on travel incentive rewards programs. We worry so our clients won’t have to.

Separating Fact from Fear

In the 30 years Docherty has been planning incentive programs, the news about epidemics around the world has affected how we travel. The 24-hour news cycle and the Internet have had a significant impact on how everyone gets news. While diseases such as whooping cough are cyclical, epidemics like HIV, SARS and Ebola have had devastating, paralyzing effects on both the physical and financial health in communities around the world.

The most difficult time to distinguish fact from fiction is the initial outbreak of a disease when the news is driven by ratings and some people make fear-based decisions about infectious disease and global travel. At Docherty, staying informed helps us maintain a clear head to make the safest, smartest decisions for you and your teams. Misinformation about a disease can sometimes have a more widespread and lasting effect on some communities than the very disease itself.

For example, the 2014/2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has had a ripple effect on the tourism economy in many African countries. Of the approximately 11,000 Ebola deaths in the past few years, only one was in the United States and the rest were in Western African countries. Despite these statistics and localization of the disease, the tourism industry in countries in other parts of the continent, such as Kenya and South Africa, has suffered. Bookings for Kenyan safaris were down as much as 70 percent last year and Kenyan Airways canceled flights to West African nations where Ebola was present. However, reassuring travelers that the distance between Kenya and Liberia in Western Africa is nearly 1,000 miles greater than the distance between New York and Los Angeles may or may not help in the face of their fear about infectious disease and global travel.

Recently, the Japanese, Norwegian and German governments, the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation announced they were pledging $460 million to make vaccines to prevent another global epidemic similar to Ebola. However, this news has not been as popular as the stories about the initial outbreak and fear about where and how diseases may spread. The combination of infectious diseases and global travel make for great headlines, but some news sources may sacrifice facts in favor of a good story.

The Docherty Commitment

At Docherty Incentives & Meetings we are committed to having the latest news and information about infectious disease and global travel to ensure your groups can focus on enjoying their incentive travel programs and not worry about how much bug repellant they need to wear. Sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are amazing resources for facts and statistics about diseases. Instead of being driven by ratings, these organizations are driven by facts to help keep people safe and healthy.

The Docherty staff knows how much our participants look forward to enjoying that long-awaited, hard-earned rewards trip, and we want their worries to be the only thing they “forget” to pack. Contact Docherty today to learn how we carefully, thoughtfully and safely plan incredible rewards trips to destinations worldwide.