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  • Tourists from an Air China flight from Beijing wear protective masks as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France, January 26, 2020.

    Tourists from an Air China flight from Beijing wear protective masks as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France, January 26, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 February 2020
Opinion

Many tourists are canceling their trips to Asia.

As China reports 31,000 cases of infection and 636 deaths, the outbreak of coronavirus has threatened to cause multi-million dollar losses in the travel industry, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO).

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Before the coronavirus, the WTO predicted a 3 to 4 percent growth in global tourism this year, compared to the 1.5 billion tourists who traveled in 2019. But the current situation indicates that these statistics will be unattainable.

Many tourists are canceling their trips to Asia. In the last two weeks of January, according to the hotel company STR, occupancy in China's hotels dropped by 75 percent. Further, there are more than 7,000 passengers quarantined on two cruise ships in Japan and Hong Kong.

The decline of Chinese travelers will also impact on the revenues of the tourism industry in 2020. According to IHS Markit, a global information provider, in 2018, this segment made 150 million visits overseas and spent 277 billion dollars.

Besides that, according to OAG, a global provider of travel data, at least 30 airlines have suspended service to China, and 25,000 flights were canceled this week, according to OAG, a travel data company.

U.S. airlines are also impacted by this situation, which will lose $1.6 billion this year due to lost business to and from China, informed Tourism Economics, the data and consulting firm.

Meanwhile, Chinese president Xi Jinping is optimistic. Today, during a conversation over the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump, assured that the Asian country "has full confidence and capability to prevail over the epidemic and that the trend of the economy maintaining long-term growth will not change."

China is dedicated to safeguarding the lives and health of not only its people but also people all over the world; Xi pointed out.

For his part, Trump commented that it's "impressive" how China is working to cure the disease and stop the epidemic and expressed that he is confident "that under Xi's leadership, the Chinese people will undoubtedly win the battle against the outbreak."

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