Zika Global Emergency: TICO On Agent Responsibility

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency requiring a united response.


Experts are worried that the virus is spreading far and fast, with potentially devastating consequences. The infection has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. There have been around 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil alone since October.


The WHO alert puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola. The declaration also means research and aid will be fast-tracked to fight the disease.


Here in Canada, Ontario’s travel registrar TICO says it has received a number of calls and emails in response to the recent warnings. TICO says registrants are asking what their responsibilities are under the province’s Travel Industry Act, 2002.

TICO’s response: “Registrants have a duty to warn customers of the reports of Zika Virus. Pursuant to Section 36(a) of the Regulation, before reserving travel services for a customer, a travel agent shall bring to the customer’s attention any conditions relating to the purchase of travel services that the travel agent has reason to believe may affect the customer’s decision to purchase.”

TICO says agents are obligated to inform customers of any safety concerns relating to their travel destination at the time of making the reservations, whether or not the Federal Government has issued a travel advisory in relation to that destination.

Travel agents may also have a continuing obligation to inform customers of a deteriorating situation in the travel destination after the travel services have been reserved, TICO says.

TICO offers the following information sources to help agents educate themselves and inform clients:

  • Public Health Agency of Canada has recommendations for travellers to protect themselves against mosquito bites. To access the Travel Health Advisory issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, click here.
  • The World Heath Organization (WHO) also has useful information regarding the Zika Virus here.
  • To access the Travel Report by country issued by Foreign Affairs Canada click here

Middle Seat - February 4, 2016 @ 12:02
So now travel agents are supposed to give out medical advice too? Pretty soon a travel sale will be like those ads for drugs with all the disclaimers.

sam - February 2, 2016 @ 11:02
yes travel agents are responsible for informing clients...but how about all those that book online? they never have any contact with the clients, plus these online companies are just out to make all they can. They are not going to loose a booking sale..it is amazing how many people do not read or even see the news to be warned on what it going on in the world..
you know how you solve this problem to some of the areas do NOT travel there simple solution....

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