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The Coronavirus’s Expected Impact on Global Tourism

What impact will the coronavirus have on tourism in 2020? Some predict the effects will be felt globally, into 2021 with much of the impact on China and Southeast Asia.



The Coronavirus’s Effect on Tourism Will Carry Into 2021, Experts Say And it won’t just affect China, either.

By Nikki Ekstein
February 13, 2020
Blookberg

Coronavirus May Affect Tourism Into 2021

Earlier this week, even as infections of the novel coronavirus seemed to be slowing, the effects of the epidemic on the global tourism industry were accelerating rapidly.

The impact of the pneumonia-like disease caused by the virus, called Covid-19, is already being felt across the Asian continent, where leisure and business travel contributed $884 billion to gross domestic product in 2017, the most recent year for which data has been compiled by the World Travel and Tourism Council. (Projections for 2018 are about $1 trillion.) For China alone, inbound tourism brought in $127.3 billion in 2019, according to the country’s tourism bureau.

But as diagnoses tick upward again, travel agents, operators, and hoteliers are bracing for at least months, if not a full year, of economic disruption from the outbreak, with long-term effects that may ripple well into 2021.

“The numbers of trip cancellations—not just to China but to the entire continent of Asia—is growing every day,” says Jack Ezon, founder and managing partner of luxury travel agency Embark Beyond. “People are put off. Sadly, a lot of them are just saying, ‘I don’t know if I want to go anywhere right now.’ Or, in many cases, ‘I’ll just go next year.’ ”

So far, almost 75% of his travelers have canceled their February and March departures to Southeast Asian countries, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still considers to have a lower, level one risk for coronavirus. “They’re worried about being anywhere close to the outbreak,” he says, “or of getting stuck with canceled flights if other hubs become infected.” A full 100% of the honeymoons his agency had booked to the region have been canceled and rebooked for alternate destinations including the Maldives, Southern Africa, and Australia.

Hilton Chief Executive Officer Chris Nassetta told investors on Feb. 11 that he expects the impact of the new coronavirus to last anywhere from six to 12 months: “Three to six months of escalation and impact from the outbreak, and another three to six on recovery,” he said. He estimated the cost to his company could be from $25 million to $50 million.

Why so long?

Weather, Weather, Weather

When it comes to leisure travel, the biggest question usually revolves around location, location, location. Once that’s been decided, weather dictates all. “North Asia you can do year-round, but Southeast Asia is much more challenging,” says Catherine Heald, co-founder and CEO of the Asia-focused travel specialist Remote Lands. “Thanks to monsoons and very hot temperatures in most of that region,” which last roughly March through September, “people aren’t looking seriously at rebooking until the fall,” she says.

For families, school schedules can complicate plans. “We had one family looking at traveling over spring break, and they won’t have that same window of time until next year’s spring break,” she says. “They’re rebooking for 2021.” The same logic applies for those who specifically wanted to see cherry blossoms in Japan or flowers blooming alongside treks in Nepal—common reasons to plan a spring trip.

Heald’s clients are among the most likely to help the industry rebound. So far her company has seen fewer cancellations than have her competitors because of the way she targets leisure and high-spending travelers. An average trip with Remote Lands costs $1,500 per day for two people, which makes her a purveyor of bucket-list vacations—trips that people are desperately hoping to realize.

“People spend a lot of time and money planning these trips,” she says. “They want to make it happen.” Her workaround so far has been to simply reroute airfares through unaffected hubs, replacing routes through Hong Kong or Shanghai with connections in Tokyo, Seoul, or Dubai. The cost, she says, can range depending on availability of fares and type of tickets booked. “On a scale from 1 to 10, the disruption to our business has been about a 2 or 3,” Heald says, explaining that travelers’ willingness to postpone, rather than cancel, keeps her balance sheets mostly intact.

China vs. the Rest of the Continent

The spa treatment room at Anantara Quy Nhon Villas in Vietnam.Source: Anantara Quy Nhon Villas
Business in China was already low this year because of negative press about trade wars. Heald says only 3 out of 400 trips she booked last year were China-only. Ezon agrees: “China was a little soft this year for leisure anyway, and Hong Kong was a mess from July” and the ongoing protests there.

The broader Southeast Asia region had been benefiting from the overflow, but that momentum is on hold. “People are canceling Sri Lanka and India just because it’s part of Asia,” Ezon says. “There haven’t even really been cases there, but so much is unknown that people are just staying away.” (Sri Lanka has reported one case of someone infected with the new coronavirus and India has reported three so far, according to Bloomberg’s coronavirus tracker.)

Hotels understand travelers’ fears, nonsensical as they may seem. Many have extended gracious policies allowing people to change their plans throughout the Asia-Pacific region at no cost, as long as they rebook before the 2020 festive season. Like Heald and her fellow travel specialists, many hotels are hoping to best retain their 2020 revenues and mitigate outright cancellations.

That’s less of an option for operators such as Guy Rubin, founder of Imperial Tours, whose entire business is based on luxury trips to the Chinese mainland. “Obviously, we have had cancellations and postponements for January, February, and March,” he says. But even travelers with itineraries for October have been inquiring about cancellations.

Others are in a holding pattern, waiting to see if the current strategy of quarantining people to contain the virus works. “If the containment strategy works, then I imagine people will be traveling in China again by summer,” Rubin says. “If it does not work, then I imagine it will take a year for people to regain trust in China.”

Recent History

Guangzhou Flight Arrives In Perth As Australia Issues Entry Restrictions On Foreign Nationals
Passengers from China Southern Airlines Flight CZ319 arrive at Australia’s Perth International Airport in February.Photographer: Paul Kane/Getty Images AsiaPac
Severe acute respiratory system (SARS) is one example the industry is studying for guidance. It took WHO roughly four months from the moment it announced a global alert about SARS until it said the disease was contained, and then an additional five months for the organization to wrap up its efforts to tally new cases. According to aviation analysts at AirInsight, the SARS outbreak cost airlines $10 billion, and that was at a time when global business was less developed.

If it similarly takes nine months for the Covid-19 outbreak to pivot into “recovery” status, which is consistent with the industry outlooks cited here, aviation will take a bigger hit. And it will take longer still for hotels and destinations to fully return to tourism levels before the disease’s spread.

“Think about Fukushima,” Heald says, referring to the 2011 nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. “People didn’t regain trust or interest in travel to Japan for years.” The flip side is that when they did, she says, there was such pent-up demand that it led to a boom in tourism: Overseas arrivals rose from 13.4 million in 2014 to 31.2 million in 2018. After many years of reassuring travelers they didn’t need to worry about radiation exposure, Japan suddenly became the fastest-growing destination in the world.

Ezon agrees this tide will ebb and flow. “If SARS was bad, this will be worse,” he says. “But remember Ebola? It’s still in Africa, and safari bookings are stable. Remember chikungunya? Once the news cycle moves on,” he says, “people will forget. Just like everything else, it’ll bounce back.”

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Coronavirus and Travel

Coronavirus is posing a challenge to the global tourism industry. The health sector and tourism and industry groups are working together to protect the global travel industry as concerns and questions mount. 


The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre is rapidly emerging as a new and important to go organization for the global travel and tourism industry in times of challenges.

Leadership and coordination are needed to protect this global industry, and the Center is ready to work with everyone, but urges it’s time to act now.

UNWTO issued a very general statement today, WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara addressed coronavirus when talking to eTurboNews saying don’t cancel flights yet, don’t close your airports, ETOA CEO Tom Jenkins said: Coronavirus fear is a powerful deterrent to tourism. The African Tourism Board answered the question if you should you still travel to Africa? PATA CEO Mario Hardy is convinced there is a lot of misinformation and said: Destination and tourism marketers will need to play a critical role in correcting the vast amount of misinformation surrounding the ongoing Novel Coronavirus outbreak that is hurting travel and tourism businesses across Asia.

Today the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre center calls on the action by the private sector, academia, public sector, and multilateral agencies to act now, as the situation of protecting Anthropocene Earth is impatient of Time.

The man behind the Center, Minister Bartlett just 3 days ago said the recent threats of global pandemics and the frequent occurrences of natural disasters heightened the need for a Global Tourism Resilience Fund.

The global travel and tourism industry is struggling to deal with the emerging coronavirus crisis.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis may very well be the biggest challenge this normally booming industry could face. Stopping more than a billion people from traveling would be the ultimate and devastating consequence putting the livelihood of millions working in the travel industry in jeopardy.

Chinese travelers have been seen as the most potential development in travel for the last 20 years. Today countries are closing their borders to Chinese visitors, airlines, trains, and ships stopped serving Chinese destinations. The Chinese government quarantines millions of their citizens stopped domestic travel routes during the busiest travel season, the Lunar New Years.

One global organization, the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre under the leadership of Edmund Bartlett and Dr, Taleb Rifai is taking an urgently needed hands-on approach.

Edmund Bartlett is the Minister of Tourism for the Island Nation of Jamaica, a region dependent on the mighty tourism Dollar.

Bartlett is seen by many as a global player. Together with former UNWTO Secretary-General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, he established the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre headquartered in Jamaica. Over just one year the center opened satellite stations around the world.

The center calls on the action by the private sector, academia, public sector, and multilateral agencies to act now, as the situation of protecting Anthropocene Earth is impatient of Time.

Our planet and the human race face multiple challenges. These challenges are global and serious — climate change, food production, overpopulation, epidemics. the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

Human beings have existed for just 200,000 years, yet our impact on the planet is so great that scientists around the world are calling for our period in the Earth’s history to be named the ‘Anthropocene‘ – the age of humans. The changes we are now making have exacted a heavy toll on the natural world around us. It’s vital that people underst and the impact we have. Help us persuade other organizations to tell them the truth.

It took humanity 200,000 years to reach one billion and only 200 years to reach seven billion. We are still adding an extra 80 million each year and are headed towards 10 billion by mid-century.

The coronavirus threat has been elevated to crisis level following yesterday’s declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the virus is now a ‘public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO emergency declaration came as a result of the rising death toll and infections associated with the virus.

The Jamaica minister said: “While the Latin American and Caribbean region has not yet reported any cases of the coronavirus, it is only logical to assume that the virus is likely to hit the region’s shores at any moment now, considering its current geographical spread and trajectory.”

Bartlett added: “For all intents and purposes, the coronavirus threat now constitutes a global emergency – one that requires a coordinated, foolproof global response to contain this looming pandemic.

The travel and tourism industry, in particular, is in a very precarious position and faces the highest probability of significant economic fallout from the emergent global health crisis.

This is for two main reasons.

One, the coronavirus threat has created a heightened fear of traveling globally. Two, China is the world’s largest and highest-spending outbound tourism market. Against this background, the global travel and tourism industry is being called upon to play a pivotal role in shaping global response efforts.

At this point, the main focus of the global response to the coronavirus threat is to prevent further exposure beyond the currently affected areas as well as to isolate infected persons from uninfected populations.

Accomplishing these two targets will require the mobilization of significant human, technological and financial resources to establish reliable systems to monitor evaluate and isolate risks especially at the various points of entry.

Large investments are urgently needed to procure modern health technology to screen risks, to conduct vaccine research, to develop public education campaigns and to ensure real-time information- sharing and coordination across borders.

We applaud the swift action of the Chinese health authorities who have constructed a 1000-bed coronavirus hospital in four days and who have demonstrated cooperation with other countries to stem its global spread. We are now calling on all public and private sector funding entities globally to support the various emergency initiatives that are being developed and deployed to deal with the looming coronavirus pandemic that is threatening global human and economic security.

The International Bill of Human Rights Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. This right is now under threat.

Working in a Global Tourism Market

Dr. Peter Tarlow of Safer Tourism has been working with the Hon. Minister Bartlett on tourism safety and security ever since the center was established.

Dr. Tarlow said in the webinar today: If there ever was a time to change sheets in your hotel room every day, it is now. If there was a time for Boeing and Airbus to allow fresh air to their aircraft instead of circulating the same air, it was now. Forget the masks, but avoid using pillows and blankets on aircraft, avoid crowds of people, wash your hands and avoid handshakes, take Vitamin C, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water.

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Finding Meaningful Travel Pursuits Through Volunteer Vacations

Travel is a way of life for many young people, including many Canadians. However, finding the ideal, unique and life-changing destination and adventure is difficult. Instead of lounging on a beach, drinking to excess and being herded about with hundreds of other tourists, the goal, for many, is to take the road less traveled and experience other countries and societies while immersed in local communities.


CANADIANS SWAP “FLY AND FRY” VACATIONS FOR MEANINGFUL TRAVEL PURSUITS

By Michele Sponagle

January 22, 2020

Source: YouAreUNLTD Magazine

Many Canadians in their teens and 20s travel as a rite of passage between finishing school and getting serious about career, family or both. Later in life, the motivation changes. Having been there and done that, mature globetrotters are moved to explore by a bigger purpose, whether it’s to learn, to volunteer or to pursue newfound passions.

For Anita Draycott, 68, from Stouffville, ON, travel means hitting the links: “I took up golf late in life and have been addicted to the game now for about 25 years.” She’s turned her passion into a pursuit and is now a professional golf writer who has played more than 500 courses on six continents.

Because the season is short in Canada, she and her husband, William, bought a timeshare in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 12 years ago. “Our one week in the sun has morphed into three months every year,” says Draycott.

She still travels internationally to feed her wanderlust. “I love to experience new places, customs, cuisine, etc.,” she says. “You could say I am addicted to travel and get itchy feet if I don’t have an upcoming trip in my calendar. I really believe that one learns a great deal by travelling – about other people, places and yourself.”

The travel boom

Draycott is part of a demographic now dominating travel. According to data from the Canadian Tourism Research Institute, travellers aged 55 and older are filling planes and hotels more than any other age group. They take an estimated 2.3 million trips within a five-year period and spend more than $35 billion annually.

And to boot, travel is good for you. According to a joint study from the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association, travelling keeps you healthier. Women who vacation at least twice a year have a significantly lower risk of coronary disease and heart attack compared to those who take a vacation only once every six years or more. Men who skip an annual holiday have a 20 percent higher risk of death and 30 percent more heart disease.

Heading to a new destination also lessens stress, increases creativity, lowers the risk of depression, and boosts happiness and life satisfaction, according to recent research. The Global Coalition on Aging also did a deep dive on the subject in a white paper meta-analysis titled Destination Healthy Aging: The Physical, Cognitive and Social Benefits of Travel. It found that travel is closely tied to successful aging. Its benefits are linked to being physically active, reducing stress, meeting new people and engaging in meaningful social interactions.

As Dr. Paul Nussbaum, president and founder of the Brain Health Center, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA, notes: “Because it challenges the brain with new and different experiences and environments, travel is an important behaviour that promotes brain health and builds brain resilience across the lifespan.”

Post-retirement, Jennifer Budd was able to combine her love of felting and travel with a visit to the Shetland Islands.

That’s true for Paris, ON resident Jennifer Budd, who retired in 2016 after 35 years working in healthcare. For the 58-year-old, being able to travel more is all about nurturing her creativity. The long-time artist and painter shifted gears in 2008 to make colourful works of art using felt. Her passion for the technique opened the door to unique opportunities when she started selling her work through her company, Woolscapes.

Recently, she was invited to teach felting to women raising sheep in Fetlar, one of the Shetland Islands, off the coast of Scotland. “It was an incredible experience,” says Budd. “As an artist, it was inspiring to see landscapes just waiting to be created in felt.”

Now, Budd seeks out other felters wherever she goes. “It’s a wonderful starting point for meeting locals who share my interest in fabric art.” Next year, she plans to go to Australia and New Zealand, destinations well known for their wealth of sheep and wool.

Hand in hand, travel and creativity are the perfect combination, promoting wellness for the mind and body.

For more, check out this cool infographic on 10 way travels can improve your health and happiness, courtesy of Bookmundi.

Route to Healthy Aging

Along with creating great memories, travel can do wonders for your overall well-being and quality of life.

  • The Framingham Study, which has continued to be updated since it began in 1948, showed that women who went on holiday every six years or less had significantly more risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death, compared to those that vacationed at least twice a year.
  • One study found that women who do not take vacations are twice as likely to develop depression as those who choose to pack their bags and head out of town.
  • The Mayo Clinic cited a reduction in stress as a good reason to travel since it helps reduce the chances of developing a wide range of maladies, from headaches to irritable bowel syndrome.
  • There’s no need to go on a long vacation. With breaks of just a day or two, 89 percent of respondents to one survey said they were able to leave stress behind.
  • Being more active while exploring is key to health. According to a 2012 study published by The Lancet, for people over 40, eliminating physical inactivity can result in an increase in life expectancy roughly equal to that achieved by eliminating obesity, nearly on par with the impact of eliminating smoking.
  • Neurogenesis – the creation of new neurons in the brain – is driven, in part, by new experiences, including travel.

Travel Tips

  1. Buy travel insurance if you are going anywhere outside of Canada. Keep in mind that one 24-hour stay in a US hospital costs $20,000 on average. Answer health questions honestly or risk invalidating your insurance.
  2. Be smart with meds. Keep them in the original prescription bottles, and have pharmacy receipts handy should you be questioned by customs agents.
  3. Consider compression wear: Long periods of sitting can cause blood to pool in the veins in the feet and lower legs, leading to localized swelling, tiredness and aches, or in a worst-case scenario, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a clot that forms in the vein. Compression socks boost circulation, curb swelling and soothe weary limbs.

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