Event-Zika and the City: How Epidemics Impact the Health, Real Estate, and Tourism of Our Cities

The NYUSPS Schack Institute of Real Estate Urban Lab hosted "Zika and the City: How Epidemics Impact the Health, Real Estate, and Tourism of Our Cities," in New York City on Thursday, December 15, 2016.

Key Takeaways

  • Despite the ongoing trend of state governments wresting control from municipalities, policy occurs most often at the local level.
  • Eliminating the threat of Zika requires continuous monitoring and concerted efforts to educate urban residents.  
  • A city’s tourism and public health sectors are deeply intertwined, with each informing the other's success.
  • Large sporting events like the Rio Olympics often serve as entry points for addressing public health issues like Zika.
  • Despite the threat of Zika, Florida remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, due in large part to its quick and effective response strategy.
  • A city's tourism industry must account for public health crises when determining its target demographics. In the wake of Zika, Miami should steer clear of marketing campaigns geared toward families of child-bearing age and instead focus on attracting older visitors.

Over the past year, Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that causes birth defects, has made headlines around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been more than 4,000 Zika cases in the US this year. New York and Florida have been among the states most impacted.

To examine the impact of Zika on cities and how cities respond to health crises, the NYUSPS Schack Urban Lab hosted a roster of distinguished experts in government, healthcare, real estate, sports, and tourism. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and renowned urbanist and NYUSPS Clinical Research Professor Richard Florida kicked off the event with "How Miami Beach is Battling the Bug," a discussion that focused on the organized effort Miami Beach has made to combat Zika.

The second half of the event included a panel discussion on "Managing Zika's Impact on Health, Tourism, and Sports," featuring Arthur Caplan, Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics; director, Division of Bioethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, and codirector of the NYUSPS Sports and Society; Lee Igel, codirector, NYUSPS Sports and Society, and clinical associate professor, NYUSPS Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business; and Kristin Lamoureux, then associate dean of the NYUSPS Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. The panel was moderated by Steven Pedigo, director of the NYUSPS Schack Urban Lab and clinical assistant professor at the NYUSPS Schack Institute of Real Estate.