Corona virus threatening global travel industry largely

Published on : Friday, March 6, 2020

On Lake Como in northern Italy, spring normally means the return of the tourists. Waterfront villas witness celebrities enjoying their vacation, couples wander the cobbled streets and design fairs fill hotel rooms with well-heeled travelers. However, this year, due to the corona virus scare, hoteliers are anxious regarding the visitor numbers.


Hotels in the area witnessed more than half of their bookings canceled in three days last week with the virus spreading through northern Italy in the biggest outbreak outside Asia. Now innkeepers are waiting to see the impact of the virus on the all-important summer months.


“We had our ups and downs in the past, but nothing like this,” said Roberto Cassani, 58, president of the Como hotel operators’ association. “American tourists in particular seem to be victims of a collective psychosis. I am really worried.”


Even as the viral spread slows in China, it’s going up elsewhere, including South Korea and Italy, which together have reported more than 8,000 of the global total of around 93,000 cases. Now it’s not just the Chinese who are staying home. Germans and Belgians are reconsidering their ski trips to Italy. Japanese visitors are canceling their visits to Bali.
Many business travelers who normally make up for the travel industry’s drop during the winter months are staying home too, as companies like Facebook Inc. and Google trade face-to-face meetings for webcasts.


L’Oreal SA, Nestle SA and Cargill Inc. have suspended employee travel globally for the coming weeks. Authorities have even stopped trade fairs that were expected to attract hundreds of thousands to Berlin, Geneva and Barcelona, while Hawaii’s Festpac cultural festival stand canceled.


The Global Business Travel Association said that the corona virus could cost the industry around $47 billion per month. Airlines and package tour operators have given an equally gloomy picture, with the International Air Transport Association predicting almost $30 billion in lost flight sales.


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