Tourist inflow into State not affected by chikungunya

The hospitality industry is heaving a sigh of relief in Tamil Nadu with the chikungunya outbreak and threat of dengue not really affecting tourist inflow.

However, the absence of a formal travel advisory has left tourists with a lot of unanswered questions.

Unlike Kerala, the epidemic has not had a negative impact on tourism in the State so far. “There has been no impact on overseas or domestic tourists in southern India,” says M.P. Purushothaman, president, South India Hotels and Restaurants Association.

Civic and health authorities have asked hotels to conduct daily fogging operations and spraying of larvicide to check the breeding of mosquitoes.

Secretary General of the Association R. Rangachary says hotels have also been instructed to provide mosquito repellents as and when demanded by guests.

Most hotels, certainly those falling in the star category, are strictly adhering to the rules and regulations on maintaining hygiene.

Mr. Purushothaman says the absence of a travel advisory from the World Health Organisation and World Travel Organisation has had an impact on tourists as queries from foreign delegates coming to Chennai for attending seminars indicate.

A number of international experts have written to organisers in Chennai asking if there are any precautions they can take in terms of vaccinations or preventive shots, and what they should carry to Chennai during the trip, since there was no information available on the Net. The organisers found themselves in a spot, as they too had no authorised information on the precautions.

The government has set up surveillance units in the southern airports of the State for providing information and counselling to passengers.

If a traveller is diagnosed with fever, staff at the surveillance booth will offer medicines and recommend treatment in any of the government hospitals, says Director of Public Health P. Padmanabhan.

At the Chennai airport, which receives, on an average, 3,100 passengers travelling in over 17 international airlines, and over 8,000 passengers from 10 domestic airlines, the surveillance unit is yet to come up.

According to the Airports Authority of India sources in Chennai, the Civil Aviation Ministry has not received any communication from State or Central Health ministries. The health authorities say they are awaiting clearance from the Civil Aviation Ministry.

As it waits for the impasse to clear, the AAI has solicited the support of local municipalities to fog the airport and its surrounding areas.

A toll-free helpline will be inaugurated next week for providing assistance to visitors and locals suspected to be suffering from chikungunya or dengue.

Source:The Hindu

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