MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Zika concerns could prompt a potential blow to Miami Beach businesses and Miami-Dade’s $24.4 billion tourism industry.
On Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott said five people who got the virus locally are connected to Miami Beach. The Florida Department of Health said the active transmission of the virus is occurring between 8th and 28th streets in the city. This is the second area labeled the Zika zone aside from parts of the Wynwood area.
Despite mosquito control efforts, there is a concern the tourism industry will take a hit. It’s an industry heavily relied upon by the city and the state as a whole – a matter addressed by Scott during his update in the morning.
“Tourism is a driving force of our economy and this industry has the full support of our state in the fight against the Zika virus,” said Scott.
In order to connect the tourism industry with resources to combat the spread of the Zika virus, Scott has directed the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the health department to work with hotels, restaurants, and attractions in Miami-Dade County on Zika prevention and education.
On the same day, the CDC and Florida health officials recommended pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant to avoid travel to the designated area of Miami Beach, in addition to the designated area of Wynwood.
“It is quite alarming due to the fact I am pregnant,” said Micky Siphanh.
Local tourism officials have seen what the Zika scare has done to Wynwood. It’s crippled traffic in the arts and entertainment district. It’s something some fear will happen in Miami Beach where half of the county’s hotel rooms are located.
Word of the Zika designation area traveled fast but did not seem to slow folks on the beach on Friday.
“I know it is spreading around and everything. We can’t let that dictate your life. Still got to live, you know,” said Erick Wisham.
What do tourism officials have to say about this?
“A couple of things you have seen, that the area one square mile in Wynwood, that area was reduced. I fully expect the program to work on the beach and reduce the size and go away,” said Bill Talbert, the CEO of the Miami Convention and Visitors Burea.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is hopeful about the situation.
“I think we’re going to show the world that we will pull through it.”