Tourism Analyst: Coronavirus Outbreak Could Have Big Impact on Travel

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The coronavirus outbreak in China could have a big impact on the overall travel and tourism industry, as the country now represents the largest source market in the world for international travel, according to a new analysis by GlobalData. 

“As reported cases of the coronavirus increase and spread far beyond China, concern within the global tourism industry is understandably peaking,” said Ben Cordwell, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData. “Travel stocks were among the biggest losers on global markets yesterday as the realization of the damage that would be caused by a long-term reduction in both inbound and outbound tourism through China dawned on investors.

“GlobalData figures show that China has grown from the fourth largest source market in the world, with 47.7 million outbound tourists in 2009, to become the largest, with a staggering 159 million outbound tourists in 2019. This accounted for 12.2 percent of all outbound travelers globally. Furthermore, the Chinese outbound market was the second highest spending in 2019, with expenditure of $275 billion.

“These figures highlight the importance of the Chinese market on the tourism industry and are a stark warning of the economic impact the coronavirus could have. We have already seen changes in travel advice from the likes of the UK and U.S., while restrictions have been put in place within areas of China. Any increase in domestic and international travel restrictions, as well as increasing apprehension from travelers, could mean a significant decline in global tourism if the spread of the virus continues to exacerbate.

“The tourism industry is already facing a number of headwinds, including ongoing uncertainty over the terms of the U.K.’s upcoming Brexit withdrawal and intensifying geopolitical tensions between a number of powerful nations. These factors, combined with the coronavirus outbreak, could mean a tough year lies ahead for the international tourism industry.”

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