The coronavirus outbreak in China could have a harmful and lasting economic impact on the global travel and tourism sector, unless the necessary actions are taken, as in previous viral epidemics, said Gloria Guevara, president and executive director of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Guevara Manzo, who was Secretary of Tourism of Mexico, was closely involved with the aftermath of the H1N1 flu virus outbreak, which in 2009 caused many deaths.
The analysis of the main previous viral epidemics conducted by WTTC experts, shows that the average recovery time for the number of visitors to a destination was 19 months, however with the correct response and management the destination could recover in just 10 months.
The global economic impact of H1N1 was estimated at up to US $ 55 billion, with the loss for the Mexican tourism industry valued at US $ 5 billion after the 2009 outbreak.
A similar economic impact affected China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada after the 2003 SARS outbreak, damaging the global travel and tourism sector between 30 and 50 billion dollars. Only China suffered a 25% reduction in tourism GDP and a loss of 2.8 million jobs.
While the Chinese authorities are taking action, in relation to the coronavirus, by restricting movement in the most immediate risk areas, the World Travel and Tourism Council also supports additional measures being taken in the region, as well as in Asia Pacific , Europe and here in the United Kingdom.
Speaking about the coronavirus, Gloria Guevara, said: “While the risk of exposure for travelers and tourists is still low, we are naturally concerned about those who have already been affected.
“Experience has taught us that global coordination and cooperation, with collaboration between the public and private sectors, will be vital to contain the spread of the coronavirus throughout China and beyond.”
“The previous cases have shown us that economic losses caused by health epidemics can be avoided through the effective use of crisis preparedness and management procedures, as well as through the management of public panic and rational decision making. Through travel
“The most effective management of a crisis requires the rapid activation of effective emergency plans, and we can see that in the first days of this outbreak, the Chinese government has acted quickly.
“However, fast, accurate and transparent communication is also crucial to contain panic and mitigate negative economic losses. Containing the spread of unnecessary panic is as important as stopping the virus itself”.