China virus sends shockwaves through Asia tourist industry - International | NTV

China virus sends shockwaves through Asia tourist industry

Monday January 27, 2020



A deadly virus that has prompted travel restrictions in China is sending shockwaves through Asia's tourism industry, which has become increasingly reliant on growing numbers of Chinese visitors.

At least 81 people have died since the new strain of coronavirus emerged in China's Wuhan, and millions are now under an effective quarantine, with all flights in and out of the city grounded and a ban on Chinese tour groups domestically and abroad.

The measures come amid a boom in Chinese foreign travel, with the number of tourists from the country increasing nearly tenfold since 2003, according to a report by research firm Capital Economics.

But businesses in destinations that rely on the huge numbers of Chinese tourists are already feeling the heat, with complaints of "deserted" beaches and shops, and concerns about the future.

The outbreak carries echoes of the SARS crisis, which paralysed regional travel and battered local economies from late 2002. Chinese tourist numbers then fell by around a third.

"If they fell by a similar amount again, it would knock around 1.5-2.0 percentage points from (gross domestic product) in the most vulnerable countries," Capital Economics said.

In Japan, the fall in Chinese visitors was already being felt in Asakusa, a popular tourist destination near the Sensoji temple.

"We've definitely been seeing less people this year," said Yoshie Yoneyama, 31, manager of a shop selling traditional Japanese sweets and a rice-based drink called amazake.