Updated 13/02/20: As travel plans are put on hold and flights get cancelled, the virus is going to sweep the tourism industry in 2020. Here’s what you need to know about the affect of coronavirus on global tourism, from travel bans to mandatory quarantines. Flights in and out of China are at a standstill and several cruise ships are under quarantine.
In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has taken the world by storm. There’s now total number of confirmed cases at 60,000 in China alone and death toll has now risen to 1357. Starting in China – the world’s most populated country – the virus comes at a time when over a billion Chinese citizens ring in the Lunar New Year.
How The Coronavirus Is Impacting Global Tourism
1. Suspended Flights
All flights in and out of Wuhan have been postponed. Airlines around the globe have announced that they will make ‘necessary arrangements’ to reroute flights passing through China. United Airlines is extending cancellations of all US flights to China until late April because of the coronavirus. China Eastern Airline had already fallen in value by 13% with other Chinese airlines taking similar dives.
While most U.S. airlines agree that it’s too soon to see how they will be affected, we do know that they will be impacted on some level. For starters, United Airlines one of the most popular airlines for U.S. – China/Hong Kong travel, dropped 8.7% in the past week. American Airlines and other major airlines are offering one-time, fee-free flight waivers for itineraries connecting through or landing in Beijing and Shanghai.
We suggest you check with your airline if you have any plans to travel to – or through – China.
2. Travel Bans
China is the world’s largest outbound travel market with nearly 150 million outbound trips annually. To contain the virus, Chinese authorities have enforced a blanket travel ban on Wuhan province where the virus originated and all surrounding cities.
This applies to 35 million people so far, and the ban is will likely spread as they try to contain the virus. What does this mean? Basically, nothing comes or goes from Wuhan or Hubei province until further notice.
Hong Kong has also “temporarily” closed some of its borders with mainland China and halt travel permits to mainland Chinese tourists. Flights to China have been cut in half, and rail services to China are paused. Meanwhile, the US and UK government are advising against all non-essential travel to China and several airlines have stopped all flights.
As of Thursday January 30th, three Russian regions in the Far East have closed their borders with China.
3. Ancient Sites, Disneyland and Everything In Between Is Closed
From ancient temples or Disneyland, China has completely halted the sale of tours. Beloved sites like Beijing’s Forbidden City, a vast section of the Great Wall and several pagodas are only a few of the famous attractions now closed.
In addition to Chinese owned and operated tours, U.S. companies are feeling the heat, too. Take Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands for example. These companies get most of their revenue from casinos in Macao. Each has lost more than 8% in stocks in the past week alone.
4. A Bleak New Year
The Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is a key time of year in China. It’s a time when loved ones gather, express gratitude for their ancestors and exchange red packets for good fortune. Family reunion, feasts and parades bring the celebration to life. China’s Lunar New Year also sees the largest human migration in the world…
Over 3 billion trips across the country link families between cities and villages during this special time of year. With the panic surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, China has suspended all public celebrations for the New Year. This extends to Hong Kong and Macau and is expected to happen across other major countries in Asia such as Thailand, Japan. This means a sad and bleak Lunar New Year for the Chinese people and other countries impacted by the ban.
5. Cruises Put On Hold
Norwegian Cruise Line is now screening all passengers departing from Chinese ports with a strict denial to anyone who has been in Wuhan in the past 30 days. This will also extend to anyone showing symptoms or running a fever. Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises and several other major cruise lines have also cancelled upcoming departures due to the outbreak.
6. Airport Screenings Across Major Countries
Airports throughout the world are adding extra security measures to prevent the spreading of coronavirus. Major countries such as the U.K., Russia, Japan, Canada and the U.S. are making serious efforts in airports to halt the virus. What does that look like for a tourist? At the very least, anyone arriving from China will receive a screening. At most major airports this means thermal testing, information on the virus and oftentimes a blood test.
7. Hawaii Among Destinations To Take A Hit
Did you know that Chinese tourists are the Pacific paradise’s biggest contributors financially? On average, Chinese tourists are spending $350 per person per day. As more Chinese stay home either in quarantine or otherwise, the island chain will feel the heat. It’s clear to see that the fear surrounding the virus could put off cautionary global travellers from not just China, but Asia as a whole.
This could more than likely mean big hits to Asian hotspots like Thailand and Singapore. Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister says that the effects of Chinese travel bans will cost Thailand around 50 billion baht in lost tourism revenue.
Other economically vulnerable countries in Asia include Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
Want more information on the Coronavirus? Please check with your national health department or see updates here.
Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. The infection can also cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.