Travelers snubbing West Africa after Ebola fears

(From the SKY News Washington office)

Signs of the Ebola outbreak in Africa are sending tourists and vacationers scrambling from West Africa to France, Benin and even, amazingly, America.

Tragedy in the Ebola-ravaged countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has cut into major travel spikes, but with deadly hemorrhagic fevers, traditional holiday destinations like Liberia and the island of Trinidad have become hard to enter.

Katie Grumbles of Sussex County, N.J., has been trying to book a two-week getaway to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten since the start of the year.

“It was hard to secure hotels down there, and we ended up having to spend $700 to $800 each on airfare just to book those two rooms in St. Maarten,” she told Fox News.

But after a crippling outbreak, and now questions over the even strength of a full-blown Ebola outbreak, Grumbles is now having second thoughts.

Grumbles is just one of many Americans angry and confused after a difficult year in West Africa, which had many travel agents scrambling for travel insurance policies that could protect their clients from cancellations.

A report from the National Travel and Tourism Office released Monday reveals things are looking up, with bookings to these three destinations slowly back on the upswing, perhaps demonstrating the strong financial effect Ebola is having. But that’s also after the outcry of thousands of people around the world threatening to cancel travel to West Africa after reading the headlines of the three worst-hit countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Grumbles, who is heading to the weekend of the Gathering of the Eagles in Bluffton, S.C., with a couple friends, felt sick last month at the Ebola-infected Ebola Treatment Center in Sierra Leone, after visiting the scene on a news tour for FOX News.

“There was basically so many of us guys who’d been there and lived in a small town and was saying that there were more people coming in with sickness. I found out a few days after that it was Ebola. And not a good thing,” Grumbles told FOX.

During the Ebola scare in 2015, FOX News was able to confirm safety for its production team. Travelers flying out of West Africa were screened and housed in unaffected regions and allowed direct access to treatment facilities.

The travel industry and many travel agents are urging Americans to stay away from West Africa, but never fear: there are still places to visit, just like never-before on the map.

Click for more from the SKY News Washington desk.

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