BVC Feb 2016 - page 13

Business View Caribbean - February 2016 13
attacks the nerves. While the symptoms of the dis-
ease for most people are only rash, fever and flu-like
effects, catching it during pregnancy can result in
the birth of child with microcephaly, a serious birth
defect that results in an abnormally small head and
brain. Zika was previously thought to be transmit-
ted only by mosquitoes, but cases have now also
included blood transfusion and sexual intercourse
with an infected person.
The virus is having an impact on tourism in Puerto
Rico, with some tourist groups cancelling reserva-
tions, particularly weddings in hotels on the Carib-
bean island. There were no reports of conventions
being cancelled, the statement said. The Virgin Is-
lands, Barbados and Jamaica in the Caribbean are
most vulnerable because they rely on tourism to
support their economies, according to data from the
World Travel and Tourism Council.
For example, the Virgin Islands welcome nearly one
million tourists each year, supporting roughly 30
percent of jobs on the islands. Most at risk are the
British Virgin Islands, where visitors support about
86 percent of economic activity in the territory. The
US Virgin Islands, by comparison, is less exposed
to a downturn in tourism because it accounts for 30
percent of GDP. In Barbados, tourism contributes
37 percent of economic activity and supports more
than a third of jobs on the island. The statistics are
similar in Jamaica, where about 28 percent of the
economy is tied to tourism.
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