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Is Ebola Affecting the Tourism Industry?

A deadly virus appears in Africa, and makes the jump from animals to humans.

Decades later the virus causes an epidemic: Preying on poor sanitary conditions and public-health practices.

The reality of the situation is that Ebola in West African countries does not only bring terrible suffering but is also affecting last minutes visitor numbers and new enquiries for the coming year for the Tourism industry,especially in Southern Africa.  In addition, this disease exacerbates the uncertainty, because hardly anyone knows whether the situation will improve soon.

Some studies show that the bookings have decreased 20 to 70%. About a third of tourism operators have reported no decrease and have been doing business as usual. The impact is more noticeable in East than in southern Africa. It is a heavy blow for the industry and the numerous wildlife reserves that rely on its revenue.

The Current situation in Namibia:

As there are no confirmed Ebola cases in any major safari countries, including Namibia, and the current risk for Namibia is very low.

The Ebola virus is not airborne and only spreads if people come in contact with the bodily fluids (such as blood, sweat and saliva) of an infected person.

How does the Ebola virus survive in dry conditions?

The Ebola virus is sensitive to light, heat and low humidity.

The Republic of Namibia is a vast, sparsely populated country being situated between the Namib and the Kalahari deserts, Namibia is the country with the least rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa, thus has low levels of humidity; no bacteria or virus can live on dry surfaces with a humidity of less than 10 percent for a long time.

How easy is it to kill the virus from Surfaces?

Relatively easy. In the Ebola-affected countries, health teams are using bleach to disinfect surfaces and bed sheets. But good hospital-grade disinfectants will kill off the virus as well.

Efforts made by Namibian government bodies:

Namibia has implemented health screenings at all major airports and border posts

After we received a couple of queries, concerning clients travelling from Ebola affected countries are not allowed entry into Namibia we did write to the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

The response was as follows:

“Namibia has not closed our borders or banned any one travelling from any country either Ebola affected or not. Screening of all people entering the country will however be conducted at entry points such as airports, seaports and at the borders. Those coming from Ebola affected countries will undergo more screening and questioning by the health professionals at those entry points before they are allowed entry into the country.”

I also phoned Dr. Vries, Chairman of the National Emergency Health Preparatory Committee and he confirmed to me; that clients coming from Ebola affected countries will be observed thoroughly at any border and if any suspicious signs show, strict measurements will be taken. 

Distance between Namibia and Ebola Outbreak Area:

Tour operators reported that many tourists view Africa as a single country when it comes to risk assessment. They do not realize that East and southern Africa, where most safaris are conducted, are just as far from the outbreak area as Europe or South America. In fact, the first Ebola case has hit Spain last week.

Article source: Ministry of Healthy and Social Services

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