COVID-19 to cost world tourism no less than $22 billion: WTTC

February 28, 2020 - 18:0

TEHRAN – The global outbreak of the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, will cost world tourism at least $22 billion owing to a drop in spending by Chinese tourists, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Director said on Thursday.

“It is too soon to know but the WTTC has made a preliminary calculation in collaboration with (research firm) Oxford Economics which estimates that the crisis will cost the sector at least $22 billion,” Gloria Guevara told El Mundo daily, AFP reported.

“This calculation is based on the experience of previous crises, such as SARS or H1N1, and is based on losses deriving from Chinese tourists who have not been traveling in recent weeks,” she said, adding, the Chinese are the tourists who spend most when they travel.

The loss figure, which equates to about 20.2 billion euros, is the most optimistic scenario envisaged by the study which was published on February 11 by Oxford Economics, taking the hypothesis of a 7.0 percent drop in overseas trips by Chinese nationals.

But the losses could more than double, reaching as much as $49 billion if the crisis lasts as long as the SARS outbreak, which erupted in November 2002 and was brought under control in July 2003. And it could spiral to $73 billion if it lasted longer than that, Oxford Economics said.

The economies most likely to suffer would be those most dependent on Chinese tourism, such as Hong Kong and Macau, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines, researchers found. On Wednesday, the WTO urged countries to avoid taking health measures that would cause “unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade” saying travel restrictions needed to be proportionate to ensure they did not have “negative repercussions on the tourism sector”.

The New York Times on Friday announced that over 83,000 people in at least 53 countries have been infected. “More new cases have been recently reported outside China, where the outbreak began in December than within in the country. China enforced a lock down of 700 million people to control the spread of the virus.”

“European and Asian markets tumbled on Friday, following Wall Street’s plunge on Thursday as investors became even more concerned about the potential harm to worldwide economic growth from the spread of the newly emerged coronavirus.”

AFM/MG

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