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News Article

Coronavirus outbreak impacts Chinese travel industry  


2019-nCoV outbreak leading to international travel disruption

The ongoing 2019-nCoV outbreak has severely impacted China’s travel industry over what is traditionally the busiest period of trading. The Lunar New Year, is a time where Chinese travel to see family and friends, with an expected 400 million Chinese on the move during that period.

However, since the coronavirus outbreak has been confirmed, and case numbers spiralling, travel bans and movement restrictions have been imposed locally and internationally.

With reservations being cancelled or arranged, airlines and hotels are set to refund customers who can no longer travel due to restrictions. Recently many international carriers, notably British Airways, have suspended all flights to and from mainland China. They said it is to 'protect their crew' from exposure to the virus, and also to prevent aiding the spread of coronavirus.

There is growing list of international carriers suspending or reducing service to China, including British Airways, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Air France and KLM. In addition China has ordered all travel agencies to suspend sales of domestic and international tours. 

Chinese airline share prices have fallen since the outbreak as many domestic flight services have been cancelled or severely reduced. The United States State Department raised its travel advisory to: "Do not travel to China." With US carriers running exceedingly limited routes from major hubs.

The Chinese domestic travel sector has also been hit hard by the outbreak. As many Chinese have decided to spend the Lunar New Year at home because of the outbreak. Major cities have scrapped the traditional Lunar New Year celebratory parades or sporting tournaments.

Other recreational facilities, like Casinos, particularly those in Macau, have seen a drop-in footfall and shares fall as a result. The release of seven films to coincided with the Luna New Year have been postponed or planned to launch later as there are curfews in place in many districts across China.

International tourism is an important sector of the country’s economy. China welcomes over 62 million tourists annually, making it the fourth most popular travel destination globally, according to UNWTO figures.

When searching CABI Leisure Tourism using this search string ("respiratory virus" or "coronavirus" or "SARS" or "MERS") and (tourism or travel or impact) there are 301 results.

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • Jesslyn Thay
  • Date
  • 31 January 2020
  • Subject(s)
  • Travel and Technology