The fear of being infected from coronavirus is creating a domino effect in the cancellation of holiday plans, exposing the tourism industry to a major slump.
Coronavirus is easily spreading from one border to another as it deceives screening procedures by remaining in dormant form before emerging in the form of cough or sore throat.
This treacherous nature of coronavirus makes it the deadliest among the family of Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) viruses, and puts governments the world over on the back foot. The pandemic is yet to be contained ever since its first signs were reported in China in December, and many countries have closed their borders to keep the disease at bay.
So far, at least 2,700 people have died among some 80,000 confirmed cases in the world.
It has also hit Italy and Iran, taking dozens of lives and stoking fear and panic from Asia to Europe to Africa.
The world tourism sector has already experienced a serious hit and if the virus remains invincible in the coming months it would cost an estimate of $1.1 trillion to the world economy.
Not only will international trade be affected by the coronavirus outbreak, but also world tourism, which could suffer even more from the effects of the virus.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism sector generates more than 10 percent of world GDP, that is equal to $8.8 trillion.
The WTTC also underlines that one in five new jobs were created by the tourism sector in the last five years.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects a loss of revenue of $29.3 billion due to the outbreak. It also predicts the demand for airlines will decline for the first time in the last decade.
It’s not just airlines, but also hotels and tour operators that are suffering from the domino cancellations of future bookings around the world, mainly in China.
What is the Chinese contribution to global tourism?
China plays the most important role in the world tourism sector by sending the most people to other destinations across the world.
In the last two decades the mobilisation of Chinese people has increased immensely in terms of visiting other countries.
At the start of millenium, nearly 10 million people crossed the border outside of mainland China, however, last year the number reached to 174 million.
Chinese tourists constitute the backbone of tourism in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore and they expected to lose billions of dollars after recent developments. They will lose not only Chinese but also American and European tourists.
On the other hand, the Chinese are the highest spending nation in the world tourism market, spending a total of $277.7 billion in 2018.
Coronavirus spreading in Europe
As the rapidly spreading virus hit Europe, the world’s most visited European countries started to suffer from infections.
In Italy alone, at least 11 deaths occured out of 322 cases. The EU has promised €230 million to fight against the “potential pandemic”, which is what it is being described as by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Apart from Italy the virus has also spread to France, Austria, the UK, Germany, Spain and many other European states.
In Spain’s Tenerife, nearly a thousand tourists were prevented from leaving the hotel where an Italian had the virus symptoms.
This situation creates a fear of being infected among people who have plans to visit another country.
Following the outbreak, mass cancellations have been happening around the world. For example, there have been mass cancellations to Greek island of Santorini, which is one of the favourite destinations for Chinese tourists.
It is not just Chinese holidaymakers cancelling their trip to the island, customers from other countries joined the trend. Many tourists are calling hotels to know if they approve Chinese tourists or not.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the coronavirus outbreak will hit the country’s tourism sector, which accounts for 8 percent of the country’s economy.
“We have less tourists, of course, in France, about 30 percent, 40 percent less than expected,” Le Maire told CNBC on Sunday at G-20 meeting in Riyadh.
Last year 2.7 million Chinese visited France, but this year the minister won’t expect this number.