Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
WHILE ZIKA fears persist throughout the region and the wider world, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said the country's top industry has not been impacted by the presence of local transmission of the virus in the capital.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a level two travel advisory for persons visiting the Bahamas in last month; however, Mr Wilchcombe said officials have not seen any cancellations or reductions.
"In fact we've seen an increase in airlift and new inquiries about airlift to the Bahamas," Mr Wilchcombe told reporters on Thursday.
"We're continuing to monitor. Obviously there is deep concern all over the Caribbean, in particular at the Carribbean Tourism Organisation (conference) last week, it came up as an added discussion.
Mr Wilchcombe said: "The state of Florida will tell you that they've seen some travel cancellations, they're seeing some bookings going south as opposed to growing and that's all because they believe its related to the Zika virus.
"All the groups are working assiduously to find the resolution to the problem. It is a problem that all our countries are facing right now.
As of September 11, there were 11 confirmed Zika cases in New Providence; however Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez said that figure was likely to increase as officials were still awaiting test results from a regional lab regarding dozens of other suspected cases.
The government has allocated some $2.5 million per month to combat Zika.
Zika, which has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly in newborn babies, can be transmitted through sex, however it is primarily spread through mosquito bites.
Residents are urged to clear their properties of items that can collect standing water, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. In order to avoid mosquito bites, the public is also advised to wear bug repellant and long sleeved clothing.