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The New Coronavirus Will Have a Major Impact on Global Travel

Travel News
by Eben Diskin Jan 30, 2020

Fears surrounding the coronavirus are spreading beyond China as infected travelers have introduced the virus to new countries, sparking concerns across the world. As a result of the outbreak, China’s tourism industry — the largest in the world for international travel — has taken a major hit, but other markets are suffering too as Chinese tourists are highly discouraged from traveling abroad. According to research conducted by GlobalData, China accounted for 159 million of the world’s outbound tourists in 2019 — that’s 12.2 percent off all outbound travelers globally. Now, with China halting group holiday tours and hotel packages abroad, and airlines suspending flights to China, tourism markets around the world are starting to feel the economic reverberations of this crisis.

Switzerland, for example, expects a 30 to 50 percent reduction in the number of tourists visiting Switzerland in the coming weeks. Swiss destinations usually popular with Chinese group tours — like Geneva, Zermatt, Interlaken, Lucerne, and Zurich — will see a sharp reduction in visitors this winter. Swiss International Airlines has also seen a dramatic increase in cancelations due to the virus.

Thailand is another popular destination for Chinese visitors, particularly around the Lunar New Year celebration that occurred this past week. Officials estimate that the coronavirus outbreak cost the country approximately $1.6 billion in revenue as the number of visiting Chinese tourists paled in comparison to previous years. Similar effects are being felt in other nearby tourist destinations, such as Hong Kong, Japan, and Vietnam. Macau, for example, has been reporting higher-than-average cancelations, and its resorts have seen their shares decline between 10 and 20 percent since January 17.

The situation in China itself has grown so dire that international sporting events have been canceled or postponed. The international ski federation canceled the first World Cup races on Wednesday, and the International Field Hockey Federation postponed their Pro League games. Olympic qualifying events have also been notably affected, with tournaments for soccer, basketball, and boxing moved outside the country.

According to a situation report by the World Health Organization on January 29, 2020, the new coronavirus is currently present in 16 countries, with 6065 cases confirmed globally. One-hundred-thirty-two people have died from the virus, all of them in China.

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