S&P says Zika will harm Miami-Dade’s tourism industry

South Beach
South Beach

Standard & Poor’s, one of the nation’s largest credit-rating agencies, recently released a report stating Zika will definitely affect Miami-Dade County’s tourism industry. The full scope of the potential damage, however, is not yet known.

S&P said Tuesday that Zika’s impact on tourism could affect Miami-Dade’s bond rating in the future, according to the Miami Herald, because the industry provides a significant portion of the county’s tax dollars.

Bond ratings are essentially a scorecard for a borrower’s ability to repay debt. Despite S&P’s warning, the agency kept its stable outlook and AA (or very strong) rating of Miami-Dade, according to the Herald.

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The report also stated real estate taxes will likely buffer the impact to government budgets.

S&P’s report follows news that a portion of Miami Beach has become the nation’s second-ever active transmission zone for the Zika virus, following Wynwood. Moody’s, a competitor to S&P, also released a warning for the county in early August.

Zika has caused a major disruption for businesses in Wynwood, with tourists and locals alike avoiding the area following the CDC’s issuance of a travel advisory stating pregnant women should stay away. Since then, the CDC has published a similar advisory for the transmission zone in Miami Beach.

The virus primarily affects pregnant women, potentially causing severe brain defects to fetuses like microcephaly. It can be transmitted both by mosquitos and unprotected sexual intercourse. [Miami Herald]Sean Stewart-Muniz