In a special blog dedicated to the Zika virus, Site ask members to share their experiences related to programs in Zika-affected areas.
Here is what incentive planners and suppliers are are reporting:
"We don't personally advise our clients what to do but instead refer them to the information on the CDC website. We have certainly helped our clients with pregnant participants cancel out of the programs to the affected areas with no penalty." -- Rhea Stagner, vice president, supplier relations and sourcing, Maritz Travel Company
"BI Worldwide has not canceled or relocated any events due to client concerns about the Zika virus, nor have we changed destination recommendations for Brazil, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean or any other destination with a Zika outbreak warning. For programs that are operating in affected countries, we are working closely with the hotels to ensure all precautions are being taken and are being communicated to guests. We are also working with our clients to ensure that information and updates are sent to all attendees." -- Mary MacGregor, vice president, Travel Group, BI Worldwide
"We have been in constant conversations with the Mexico Tourism Board and they have cited a very low number of cases in rural areas not near the popular tourist spots. MIE has seen some individuals cancel if they are pregnant, but we have not seen any type of mass cancellation like previous flu problems in the past. We have had a lot of clients ask for mosquito prevention products for attendees. Yesterday, our Puerto Vallarta office purchased 300 cans of "OFF with Deet" for a group arriving next month!" -- Adam Lawhorne, CEO, Meeting Incentive Experts
"We haven't had any programs -- or participants -- cancel, yet. But, there are a lot of questions/concerns about the virus and we are directing people to the CDC web site. For current proposals, clients have taken a few destinations off the list during their decision-making process." -- Joanie Phillips, director of purchasing, MotivAction
"Being well read on this topic and having it just recently discussed with a friend, who is a scientist studying viral and bacterial infections, [I feel] Florida is in a good position (as of right now) and in a none-too-threatening situation. The current issue - simply put - is that the virus is ahead of the cure, which is always the case, so until then there will be a chance that people have doubts that we cannot eliminate. The Zika virus is also very prominent in parts of Asia and Africa, where, needless to say, they deal with a huge amount of different viruses as well (Dengue, Malaria, etc.), which we luckily do not have in the U.S. Since our bulk business is focused on the U.S. and not in the Caribbean, no clients have yet asked us about the Zika Virus for the U.S. or Florida. We have a client traveling to the Caribbean that has two pregnant guests who wanted to cancel, and given that the attrition allowed four guest rooms to be canceled, this was a non-issue." -- Mark Paetz, senior program manager, First Incentive Travel, Florida
"We have experienced a cancellation in Panama for a large group composed of young couples, so that was the reason. In checking with other properties in Panama, they are reporting a few cancellations." -- Julia Trejo, director of special projects, Terramar, Destinations, Panama
"At this moment in time we have only had one group cancel their late February program to Puerto Rico due to the Zika virus. The group of approximately 300 guests is currently working on negotiations to reschedule their program to May of this year. In terms of program attendance, our clients have noticed a slight drop, mainly only with guests that are pregnant or trying to conceive. The main threat is for pregnant women and this tends to be less than 2 percent of a group. It is unfortunate that the virus has been linked so strongly to Puerto Rico, where we only have 22 confirmed cases". -- Brenda Sastre, director of sales, Innovation DMC, Puerto Rico
"At Casa de Campo, we lost a big piece of business for May, and many clients have expressed concern about their upcoming programs. There are only a few isolated cases in the Dominican Republic, far away from the tourist areas. We prepared a statement, along with our public relations team, explaining our preventing protocols in place and some travel advice from the CDC. We are also using a press release from the Ministry of Tourism assuring the destination's commitment to travel safety." - Patricia Perez-Sahin, director, Caso de Campo, Dominican Republic
"We have not received any cancellations from any groups, however a couple of groups have canceled five to 10 participants, mostly women in early pregnancy. The local authorities are closely following the indications from the experts and international entities, and this has helped our island to have a very low impact in the population. So far we have not have any case of visitors getting the virus in any of our resort areas." --Genaro Almonte, managing director, IVI DMC, Dominican Republic
"We have been closely monitoring the Zika virus situation and are aware that the CDC has issued a travel alert for certain countries. We will assist any pregnant women who do not feel comfortable sailing to countries affected with the virus by providing alternate itinerary options. In order to reduce the risk of contracting any number of diseases spread by mosquito bite, including the Zika Virus, we urge our guests to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites by remaining in well-screened or air-conditioned areas when possible, by wearing light-colored clothing that adequately covers the arms and legs, and by applying insect repellant to both skin and clothing." -- Lori Cassidy, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
"Here in Argentina, we have not had any cancellations, mostly because there is no high season for incentive trips and our only region affected is Iguazú Falls." -- Christian Cancina, marketing director, Huentata Servicios Corporativo, Argentina
"We have not had any cancellations nor have we heard of any in the hotels in Jamaica… We are grateful for that." -- Sandra Daley-Francois, director of global sales, Montego Bay Convention Center, Jamaica
The blog also lists a number of resources Site members can consult for Zika-related information at siteglobal.com/blog/responding-to-clients-concerns-about-the-zika-virus.