AHTA leads the charge in Zika preparedness for the nation’s tourism industry

The AHTA is arming the local tourism industry with tools to pre-emptively strike at the Zika virus, hosting the comprehensive Vector Control & Mosquito Eradication Seminar for industry professionals on Friday (Feb. 5).

AHTA general manager, Neil Forrester, said the workshop was crafted to give tourism and hospitality industry workers the information necessary to better protect tourists and staff from the virus.

“The Zika virus has not yet arrived in Antigua, but we have to work to mitigate the risk of it arriving and if it does arrive, of its spread. To do this we have to fight the Aedes aegypti mosquito,” the general manager said.

He continued, “Prevention, vector control and personal deterrents will go a long way in reducing the amount of Zika outbreaks, should the virus arrive on island.”

Participants—ranging from hotel management to grounds staff— listened intently as local vector control specialist, Brian Edwards, outlined a four-pronged approach to targeting and reducing the mosquito population.

“Inspection and sanitation is one of the first tasks, which is the easiest and includes no insecticides. We have the larvicides that target stagnant water. They are safe for humans. Then the adulticides, this is where you do fogging. The barrier treatment takes care of areas where mosquitos tend to breed, like bushes and patios,” Edwards said.

Edwards, who is also the managing director of Breekat Enterprises, added, “This is a knockdown process to controlling the mosquito population, it is comprehensive.”

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Zika campaign also listed monitoring and eradication as part of its plan this week.

Seminar participant and chief engineer at Curtain Bluff, Peter Antifave, said, “There are a lot of notices about the Zika virus and we have to do something….It is not just for guests, but also for the staff. We must make sure they are protected.”

Antifave went on to say seminars, such as AHTA’s, are necessary, “I think it is great, we have to build awareness.”

Zika is a virus spread from person to person primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis.

For further information on the AHTA and its response to Zika, visit http://www.antiguahotels.org or contact the AHTA at 462-0374.