But that was before a new coronavirus (formally known as 2019-nCoV) hit China and then very rapidly started spreading to the rest of the world with 20 countries and counting isolating cases.
Officials in China and those in the rest of world have been much quicker to take more drastic action after learning bitter lessons from the SARS outbreak in 2003, which also started in China.
Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, centre, removes his face mask to speak to journalists during a visit to the Suvarnabhumi International airport to inspect measures in place to monitor passengers for the coronavirus. Thai Government Spokesman's office via AP
SARS accounted for a drop in international tourist arrivals of almost 9.4 million and a loss of between US$30 billion and $50 billion. But in 2002, China’s role as both a travel destination and a source country was relatively minor, receiving fewer than 38 million tourists and sending about 17 million tourists abroad.
The severe travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese government on its citizens and the stern warnings from Foreign Affairs offices, including Canada’s, to avoid all non-essential travel to China and all travel to Hubei province (Wuhan is its capital and largest city) means that the economic impact of this coronvirus will be felt in every corner of the world and almost every sector of the economy.
A woman wears a mask in the arrivals section of the international terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
With the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a public health emergency of global concern, Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) fears that this escalation could have a damaging and lasting economic impact on the sector. She’s expressed serious concerns that airport closures, flight cancellations and shuttered borders often have a greater economic impact than the outbreak itself.
Today, China is Canada’s second-largest overseas market, accounting for close to 800,000 arrivals, and its highest spending market with more than$2,800 per trip.
Tourists are seen on the Great Wall of China. (Avery Steadman/Unsplash)
Depending on how long the restrictions and warnings are in place, losses could easily double of those in 2003. The pain will be felt in every industry as tourism’s supply chain involves everything from agriculture and fishing to banking and insurance. The hardest hit will be its core industries of accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transportation and travel services.
But this may not be the case for connecting flights from Beijing or Shanghai, the cities most commonly served by North American airlines.
A growing number of hotels are also waiving changes and cancellation fees for bookings in China scheduled for the next few weeks. But many travellers to or passing through China may not be able to recover all their money, even if they bought insurance. That’s because most basic travel insurance plans do not cover epidemics as a reason for cancellation. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
The Conversation Africa The Conversation Africa is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community. Its aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues, and allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation. Go to: https://theconversation.com/africa
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