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Chikungunya may trim tourism revenue by Rs 74 crore

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  • Chikungunya may trim tourism revenue by Rs 74 crore

    Chikungunya may trim tourism revenue by Rs 74 crore: IIM-A

    Chitra Unnithan & Vinay Umarji / Mumbai/ Ahmedabad February 12, 2009, 0:20 IST

    A severe outbreak of chikungunya or dengue may cost Gujarat Rs 74 crore in terms of lost tourism revenue, warns a working paper published by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). "This is in addition to the Rs 380 crore immediate cost of these diseases to Gujarat", says Dileep Mavalankar, faculty member at IIM-A who led the study.

    The findings are part of an international collaboration to help understand the burden of neglected diseases in Gujarat and other parts of Asia. To this effect, IIM-A has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SS Vasan and Donald Shepard of Oxford and Brandies Universities, respectively.

    The IIM-A study has analysed the 2005-2006 outbreak of chikungunya which affected a third of the population of the French R?union island, leading to 4 per cent, 40 per cent and 17 per cent decline in international tourist arrivals from non-endemic countries during 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively. "The estimated loss to R?union was around US $ 339 million for the period 2005-2007" says SS Vasan of Oxford University, one of the co-authors.

    According to the study, a 4 per cent decline in arrivals could mean a loss of Rs 34 crores to Gujarat from international tourism revenues, and a further loss of Rs 40 crores from domestic tourists coming from other Indian states. It is worth noting that Gujarat suffered nearly 12 per cent fall in foreign exchange earnings for at least three months following the violence and riots in 2002, the study states.

    "Cost of illness comprises 95 per cent of the Rs 380 crore per annum immediate burden to Gujarat, and only 5 per cent is due to prevention programmes. The experience of many countries is that public education alone is not enough. Spending more on prevention, particularly vector control through paid workers, is likely to offset some of the treatment expense, benefiting both government and households", says Shepard, an international expert on health economics.

    The impact on Gujarat is relatively less because its share of world tourism receipts is just 0.04 per cent, whereas Malaysia and Thailand have healthy shares of 1.64 per cent and 1.82 per cent respectively ? over 40 times higher than Gujarat. The study estimates that a similar 4 per cent decline in foreign tourists would cost US$ 65 million to Malaysia and US$ 363 million to Thailand.

    The study further states that both chikungunya and dengue have no specific medication. Genetically engineered vaccines are under development and may take 5-10 years for widespread availability. "Regulatory clearance before and after open-field tests are required before these modified mosquitoes can become part of an integrated vector control programme, which may take a year or two" says Vasan.