In light of the grave concerns that the Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak has raised—and the over 200 deaths of the contagious respiratory illness—the World Health Organization declared the virus a global emergency and the U.S. State Department has urged all Americans to not travel to mainland China.
Brett Snyder, founder and author of the popular airline industry blog Crankyflier.com, confirmed to Adweek that airlines have seen dramatic decreases in demand to China thanks to the concern around the coronavirus outbreak, and that many of these airlines have canceled all flights to mainland China for a month or more.
“It remains to be seen whether this will remain isolated to panic around China travel or if it will expand,” Snyder said.
Several airlines liked United Airlines have offered waivers on change fees or the option to cancel for credit a flight to and from mainland China and/or Wuhan, which is under lockdown to contain the spread and severity of the outbreak.
Romey Louangvilay, head of communications at ELMNTL (whose clients include the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Tourism), told Adweek that while it is worth noting that the coronavirus is a serious virus, it shouldn’t stop you from traveling—you should just be cautious and alert.
“From the tourism perspective, a lot of DMCs, tour operators, and some of my clients who are government tourism boards are feeling the pinch,” Louangvilay said. “We receive a lot of questions on social media about the safety of travel, and we’re working closely with our client, as well as people on the ground to keep the public updated on traveling to Asia and Southeast Asia.”
ELMNL has had to reschedule several of our press and influencer trips to Southeast Asia for later in the year since the news around the virus has caused an overall panic of traveling.
“Everyone in the tourism space is feeling the decline from sales and cancellations,” Louangvilay added.
Even Disney has felt the pinch. Both Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland, which attract millions of tourists a year, have been closed in the wake of the contagion.
Per Yahoo Finance, every cancelled voyage to mainland China could cost $3 to $4 million in revenue for cruise operators. Royal Caribbean Cruises has already announced that cancellations (such as their Spectrum of the Seas cruise in the Asia-Pacific region) will trim its earnings by 10 cents per share and would likely take another stock hit if travel restrictions continued until the end of February.
However, direct travel brands aren’t the only ones affected by the novel coronavirus scare.
Domestic companies with a global presence have also felt the brunt of the outbreak and subsequent lockdowns and public fear over contagion. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Airbnb, Starbucks, McDonalds, Razer and LG have all reportedly halted employee travel to and from mainland China and have suspended service at their stores in the high-risk areas of the country. Universities from Kentucky to Pennsylvania have been temporarily suspending their study abroad programs and restricting student travel to and from China until further notice.
Here’s more specific information on how travel plans to and from mainland China might be affected or postponed over the next couple of weeks:
Domestic and International Cruise Lines
The Cruise Lines International Association, considered to be the leading voice of the global cruise industry, released a statement on Thursday, Jan. 30 regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
The statement confirms that all CLIA members have temporarily halted crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual who has traveled to or through mainland China within the previous fourteen days.