With coronavirus spreading in China and now in other nations, the travel industry is being greatly affected. In China, this is the Lunar New Year and it is when millions of Chinese go and visit family and loved ones. It has been called the world’s biggest migration as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel in-country and internationally.
The travel season will extend from Jan. 10 until Feb. 18. At this same time last year, as many as 108 million trips were made outside the country. The country was expecting that 4 billion trips would be made over the Lunar New Year season.
Nearly all forms of public transportation within the city of Wuhan and some of its neighboring cities have canceled public transportation. This includes airports, trains, subways, and buses. Schools have closed, many large New Year’s Day celebrations, Disney World, and more have shut down. Movie companies had planned to release seven new movies during the season, but they have been postponed.
Nearly every industry in China will be affected by a lack of travel during this time – compared to what was normal and expected. The Civil Aviation Administration in China has said that airlines should be willing to give passengers refunds when they cancel a flight. They have stopped flying out of Wuhan, the city where coronavirus started. One of China’s major airlines, China Eastern Airlines, has already seen a drop in its value of 13%.
Airlines in North America are already being affected. While none of them fly directly to Wuhan, other companies do and then people transfer to airlines that fly here.
Many hotels are also refunding reservations as people in the Wuhan area are canceling their travel plans. The largest online travel agency in China, Trip.com, is not charging cancellation fees for tourists who are either quarantined or feel they would be safer just staying home.
The cruise lines are also being affected. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. often has a lot of Chinese on board. Cancellations are occurring and their value has already dropped more than four percent. Casinos are also seeing their shares drop.
The travel and tourism industry is very large in China, estimated at being about 11% of the economic growth of the country. Around 28 million people are employed in it.
CDC Issues Travel Restrictions
Americans are being advised by the CDC to not travel to this area if it is not essential. They warn that medical care may be very limited because many hospitals in Wuhan are already being overtaxed in handling the massive number of people seeking treatment. More than 8,000 people are being treated for possible symptoms of coronavirus, but about 2,000 people have been verified so far to have it.
No one knows how long the coronavirus is going to affect China and travel. People are being traced now in various countries that are known to have traveled in a jet with someone who was later identified to have the illness. People have been identified as having the illness in a growing number of countries, including China, France, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and the United States.
The coronavirus outbreak is expected to last for several months at the minimum. It is not a good time to invest in the travel market with further drops in value expected in the industry as the illness continues to spread.