With the rise in coronavirus numbers, the travel industry is bracing itself for the negative impact.
According to Chinese officials, there are thousands of cases and over 30 deaths with confirmed cases in other countries: Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the U.S. China expanded its quarantine to 12 cities in and around Wuhan – the epicenter of the outbreak – which has 35 million people.
The World Health Organization said precautions were needed, but no global emergency was being enacted just yet.
How Will The Tourism Industry Be Affected By The Virus Outbreak
The damage the coronavirus can cause on the industry is just as bad as the virus’ timing. For instance, China’s Lunar New Year may have been impacted by the illness. It’s a time of year where 400 million Chinese travelers were expected to travel for a several-weeks long holiday vacation to other parts of the country and other Asia-Pacific countries. It’s the time of year where rural Chinese workers come home to see their families.
It’s a real challenge for destinations looking to get and watch tourists, with WHO using thermal scanners to screen passengers arriving from China.
The revenue loss is another way in which tourism will be negatively affected, which includes restaurants, aviation, retail, etc. With millions unable to leave the area and staying home, there is going to be a tremendous drop in the people who travel during this time. On top of that, people who live in other regions are likely to stay home.
The impact the coronavirus could make may be similar to the 2003 SARS crisis, which led to a negative GDP growth for China’s economy and others in the Southeast Asia region.
And, if the coronavirus effect lasts as long as or longer than the SARS incident, it could have a negative impact on the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Other Concerns: Aviation, Hotels and Business Travel
When it comes to air travel, authorities were worried about flights coming in and out of Wuhan, China, and the airport has been shut down until further notice. However, airport officials in other countries have implemented the use of screening tools to identify potential coronavirus carriers. Some carriers are using virus response kits that include gloves, hand sanitizer, hand soap, face masks and more.
And, as the virus continues to spread, airlines are going to face even more pressure with panic among the crew and passengers headed to and from China.
As for hotels, many of them are waiving cancellation fees for people of the affected regions. Hilton has enacted a waiver for guests looking to cancel or modify their reservations in any of its China hotels, with the exemption available on reservations up to Feb. 8. Any guest with questions is urged to reach out to Hilton, which operate s four hotels in Wuhan alone.
Hyatt is also waiving its fees for canceling, and changes for any China and Asia-Pacific hotel stays booked up to Feb. 10. People who booked through a third-party or online booking site will need to reach out to them to handle their concerns.
The best thing travelers concerned about the coronavirus is to reach out to the hotel and see what they are offering for cancellations and rebookings.
Most people have yet to limit Asia travel, but any traveler who is feeling feverish and experiencing flu-like symptoms needs to reach out to their employer and not travel while they are sick.
This World Brief was written by contributor Susan Powell. Source: Skift