NEW YORK — Travel industry professionals were confident Friday that news of New York City’s first Ebola case would not scare away visitors, who come here by the tens of millions each year.
New York City “is open for business,” said Chris Heywood, a spokesman for NYC & Co., the city’s tourism organization. “We have not heard of any instances of meetings or tour operator cancellations.”
New York, a global financial center and key travel hub, is on track to have 55.8 million tourists this year, Heywood says.
NYC’s first Ebola patient in isolation amid city jitters
Carolyn Clark, spokeswoman for the Professional Convention Management Association said the group hadn’t heard of any members canceling or shifting their meetings away from New York City over concerns about Ebola.
“From the chatter in our private online community, the virus seems to have had little impact on destination choices,” she said, adding that several had just convened in Dallas where a Liberian man died of Ebola and two health care workers were infected with the virus. “Most want to make sure they have the latest information and are prepared for any onsite … emergency scenarios.”
Craig Spencer, a New York-based physician who recently returned from the West African country of Guinea, tested positive for the Ebola virus on Thursday, rattling some residents of a city where people live and commute in close quarters.
New Yorkers are especially worried about the massive subway system and if the Ebola case diagnosed yesterday could put them at risk.
Local officials sought to reassure the public that despite Spencer’s movements in recent days, including a visit to a bowling alley and rides on the subway, casual contact with someone diagnosed with Ebola does not lead to infection.
“There is no cause for alarm,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. “Ebola is an extremely hard disease to contract. … It cannot be transmitted through casual contact. It cannot be transmitted in airborne fashion.”
Kathy Duffy, spokeswoman for New York City Marriott Hotels said that it was “too soon to tell” if the latest Ebola case would affect bookings. But, “Our hotels continue to operate under … strict standards of cleanliness, which either meet or exceed public health department regulations.”
Surveys have shown that travel concerns about Ebola have mostly been focused abroad, particularly on Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where the virus has hit hardest.
A poll of corporate travel managers released last week by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation found the Ebola outbreak was not keeping companies from sending employees on the road, and the organization’s executive director Mike McCormick didn’t think the Ebola case in New York would cause a major shift in corporate plans.
“I don’t think this will cause any dramatic change from our initial results,” McCormick said. “Certainly there’s caution. Certainly there’s ongoing concern to make sure people are safe, that the disease is not spreading. … The good news is people are very well aware because of the focus and attention it’s gotten about what to do, what not to do and how much concern to have.”
Angie Licea, Travel Leaders Corporate’s senior vice president of business operations, technology development and meetings said that her clients were not suddenly refusing to send employees to New York or Dallas.
“It’s business as usual for our clients,” she said, adding that her company has been giving detailed updates on the Ebola virus since the summer. “They not only understand just how isolated these cases are but also how difficult it is for Ebola to spread.”
But Kevin Mitchell, of the Business Travel Coalition, says the latest Ebola case might push some businesses to consider pulling back on corporate trips, at least to cities where victims have been diagnosed.
“I think if we are not at the tipping point, we are close,” he says. “One of the driving forces edging us toward a tipping point is a growing lack of confidence in (Centers for Disease Control’s) competence and lack of forthrightness. Furthermore, it is a dinner-table discussion for travelers and their increasingly nervous families.”
Visitors to New York who choose to ride the subways should not be fearful of contracting the virus, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority which oversees the massive train system.
“The MTA New York City subway system is safe to ride,” the agency said in a statement. “The person diagnosed with Ebola in New York City rode the subway several times since returning from abroad, but the state and city health commissioners agree there was no risk to any other subway customers or any MTA employees.”
Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, issued a directive earlier this week for more frequent and intense cleanings of the bathrooms at Newark and JFK airports that are used by those returning from abroad, as well as cabins on flights that might be carrying travelers from the three West African nations most impacted by Ebola.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Powered by WPeMatico