Around the globe, cities have been experiencing the fallout from the precipitous drop in visitors from China since the Chinese government imposed a ban on organized tours and many airlines have suspended flights to and from that country, due to the coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, late last year. Health officials have scrambled to deal with the outbreak, and tour operators and travel agents in the New York area have been bracing for the economic pain that will come with empty rooms in hotels and empty seats on tour buses.

The manager of a hotel near Newark Liberty International Airport that relies on Chinese tourists estimated the loss from the coronavirus outbreak at “well over $100,000 and climbing” in early Feb. A company that arranges Chinese-language bus tours of the sights in Manhattan is dealing with hundreds of cancellations from Chinese tourists who could not come to NYC. The owner of a travel agency in Queens who had booked trips for 200 Chinese tourists was considering laying off between two and five employees in Feb.

Beyond a plunge in Chinese visitors, owners of restaurants and stores in NYC’s three main Chinatowns – in Lower Manhattan; Flushing, Queens; and Sunset Park, Brooklyn – say the coronavirus and the fears it has stoked are hurting business. At restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown, workers and owners said business had dropped 50 to 70% in less than two weeks.

In NYC, Chinese tourists represent the second-largest group of foreign travelers (visitors from Britain are No. 1).

Tourism Economics, which conducts travel-industry research, is predicting a 28% drop in visitors to the United States from China in 2020 and $5.8 billion less in spending. The firm based its forecast on the timeline of the SARS outbreak in 2003 – which lasted about four months – and the travel industry’s rebound. It took another three years for the number of travelers from China to return to pre-SARS numbers.

In Feb, before the Trump administration advised Americans not to travel to China, STR, a travel research company, said 2020 would be a “non-growth year” for hotels in the United States in revenue per available room, the hotel industry’s benchmark indicator. That prediction came after nine years of relatively strong growth.

Sean F. Hennessey, an assistant professor at New York University who follows the travel industry, said the economic impact was likely to be greater than during the SARS outbreak because China accounted for less than 2% of the city’s foreign visitors then. In 2018, according to figures from NYC & Company, the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau, just under 8% of the foreign travelers who visited New York came from China.

Experts predict the Coronavirus will taper off by April.

Source: The New York Times

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