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Disease outbreaks will affect Indian tourism

The worries of Indian government are not yet over, as they expect possible fallout on the tourism sector pertaining to the dengue and chikungunya outbreak.

Disease outbreaks will affect Indian tourism

The worries of Indian government are not yet over, as they expect possible fallout on the tourism sector pertaining to the dengue and chikungunya outbreak. Authorities have reported at least 103 dengue fever deaths and more than 5,700 cases since late August after monsoon rains began to taper off, leaving stagnant and filthy pools of water in many towns and cities. As officials struggle to cope with dengue cases that have flooded many state-run hospitals, they are also dealing with an outbreak of Chikungunya disease, which is spread by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito that also transmits the dengue virus. India has reported 1.35 million suspected cases of Chikungunya with 1,651 confirmed infections in the past seven weeks but no deaths. Both Chikungunya and dengue cause high fever, muscular and joint pain, skin rashes and vomiting. The fact that the number of new cases of both diseases has not let up is worrying tour operators and officials with the peak tourist season starting next month - even though no visitors are believed to have died from dengue. The president of Indian Association of Tour Operators said that if this continues, it will definitely affect tourism in the country. Therefore they need to clean up to ensure that the tourists are not deterred from traveling to India. Indian tourist arrivals rose over 13 percent in January-September to 3.061 million from 2.70 million in the same period in 2005, following three years of healthy growth. But officials in the southern state of Kerala, famous for its backwaters, pristine beaches and hill stations, said they were receiving inquiries from tourists on whether it was safe to come to India this winter, when the foreign tourist season peaks. Principal secretary of Kerala Tourism has been getting many inquiries from Europeans planning to travel to Kerala whether it is safe to do so because of reports of Chikungunya. Which according to him is safe. The authorities had drastically stepped up the state's disease monitoring mechanism, garbage disposal and fumigation operations to curb the number of Chikungunya cases in Kerala, which were around 60,400 but falling each day. All the resort owners have taken extra measures to keep their surroundings clean and devoid of mosquitoes. Kerala is ranked third in terms of foreign tourist arrivals after the desert state of Rajasthan and the coastal state of Goa. Indian authorities have been slammed by media for not anticipating the need to clean up stagnant water after the monsoons and allowing mosquitoes to breed leading to the twin outbreaks. The outcry has forced officials to act belatedly.
Reuters,
October 2006
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