Caribbean hotel occupancy dips, likely due to Zika fears

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Zika virus concerns likely impacted Caribbean hotel occupancy from January through April, according to STR–Gay Nagle Myers reports for Travel Weekly.

Compared with the same period a year ago, hotel occupancy fell 2.3 points to 72.9%. Average daily rate was down 1.4% to $268.86, and revenue per available room dropped 4.4% to $195.99.

While 96.1% of consumers surveyed in April by Travel Leaders Group indicated that the Zika virus had not impacted their travel plans this year, “the converse would state that 3.9% did change their travel plans because of the virus,” noted Steve Hennis, STR’s vice president for consulting and analytics.

“A 3.9% drop in demand would have a fairly noticeable impact on occupancies. Coming off a strong 2015 and despite a very modest increase in supply, all of the key performance metrics are down,” he said.

While a weakened Canadian dollar and an East Coast blizzard in January also might have been factors, the overriding issue appears to be fear over the Zika virus.

Hennis said that the expectation is that Zika fears will subside and the issue will become another part of the decision-making process involving travel.

“Destinations are taking preventative measures to contain the outbreak. A more permanent solution is in the hands of scientific research and medical communities,” he said.

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