By Ingrid I. Rivera Rocafort
While we celebrate the ease and accessibility of global travel, it requires some common-sense precaution, no matter where in the world one goes. That’s the nature of enjoying new and different destinations.
Education is the key to relishing new adventures without the fear of risk, real or perceived. Accurate information is fears’ best antidote.
Puerto Rico’s climate and natural beauty make it a world-class destination for visitors from around the world. As a tropical island in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico has significant experience dealing with mosquitoes and related illnesses. Visitors to our island can feel confident that we are putting this expertise to work and protecting the safety and welfare of everyone who comes here.
To put this into perspective, Zika cases currently represent less than one-half of one percent of our population. Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health, we have taken aggressive steps to mitigate its impact, specifically on pregnant women who are the most at-risk.
It goes without saying that a comparable priority is our commitment to protecting the 5 million visitors who come to our special island every year.
We are doing everything possible to continue extending our traditional hospitality to this fundamental part of our economy.
In the face of Zika, the government is working actively and aggressively in three key areas: preparation, prevention, and protection.
As with most mosquito-borne illnesses, the most effective way to contain Zika is by preventing mosquito bites. We are reinforcing the vital importance of using an EPA-approved mosquito repellent daily, and wearing proper clothing.
We have a vigorous effort underway to eliminate standing water, seal septic tanks, and eradicate mosquito-breeding sites.
We have established communication channels so our people are immediately able to report high-risk areas.
And, we are working with our entire tourism industry, including the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, our convention bureau—Meet Puerto Rico and the Small Inn Association, as well as other tourist destinations to ensure that leisure and business travelers are following the CDC guidelines.
With tourism to Puerto Rico at an all-time high, we want visitors to know that they can enjoy our beautiful beaches, rainforest, zip-lines, and terrific accommodations, knowing that we are doing everything in our power to make their visit safe and worry-free.
On behalf of the people of Puerto Rico, we pledge to continue to inform and protect as we welcome the world to the tropical paradise that we call home.
Ingrid I. Rivera Rocafort is the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, a public corporation of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.