H1N1 “Swine Flu” Increases Caribbean Travel But Decreases Kissing

H1N1 “Swine Flu” Increases Caribbean Travel But Decreases Kissing

Travelers with a sense of humor. Click photo to see gallery of decorated flu masks.

Travelers with a sense of humor. Click photo to see gallery of decorated flu masks.

Barbados is in the clear, swine-flu-wise, although like all countries, we remain on watch.

The spread of the H1N1 “swine” flu in Mexico has diverted travelers’ attention to Caribbean countries, particularly Jamaica, where travel bookings are up 30 percent and to Dominican Republic, where bookings have increased 19 percent, according to TUI Travel, Europe’s largest package tour operator.  TUI reports that since news of the H1N1 flu outbreak a month ago, long-distance travel from Europe has increased more than 30 percent.

However, even though Caribbean countries are in the clear, they are diligently keeping an eye out.

Trinidad is screening all travelers arriving in that country via Mexico.  The Ministry of Health there has looked into six suspected cases, all ultimately testing negative for “swine flu.” One additional case is being kept under “close observation in an undisclosed hospital.”

Suspected flu cases in Belize are “being probed” and public events such as a reggae concert have been canceled. In the Bahamas, ten students and two teachers who recently returned to country from a trip to Mexico were “under watch of the health authorities.”

The flu isn’t the only problem the travel industry is facing.  Crime in Mexico was already keeping travelers away (travel by Americans, some 6 million strong in 2008, is down).  Also, the strong euro keeps travelers focused on non-European holidays. According to TUI, travel to non-European countries is up 30 percent, with Turkey and Egypt being the biggest beneficiaries.

Even in the face of potential tragedy, humans are resilient and ultimately optimistic beings. People on holiday in Mexico when the flu broke out were told by TUI they could go home and receive a refund but TUI reports that only 10 percent did.

And the face masks.  The smiles they generate have to be good for onlookers’ health.

Best of all is the tongue-in-cheek warning, delivered via Twitter, issued by the Minister of Health & Beauty & More & More Safer Sex to his fellow citizenry of ‘Baruba’, “Until further notice, Barubans are hereby and henceforth warned not to kiss North American tourists arriving from Canada, Mexico and the USA. More later on my nightly Facebook.”

Fortunately, I haven’t seen a downturn in Barbadians kissing North Americans. At least not in my house.

P.S. Do the masks help anything?  Apparently it’s doubtful.  Better to do what your mother told you: wash your hands.



2 Responses to “H1N1 “Swine Flu” Increases Caribbean Travel But Decreases Kissing”

  1. Sandra says:

    Great post. But shouldn’t that be H1N1?

  2. Sandra, hi. Big “duh.” Of course. Maybe I was distracted by those fun happy-face masks. In any case, I thank you. Change made! xx

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