Individual tourists and groups from China and Asia must not be stigmatised because of the latest coronavirus outbreak, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The trade body is warning against disproportionate reactions which could result in discrimination.
The panic, seen as a way of containing the coronavirus, could run the risk of stigmatising one of the biggest tourist groups in the world and could even cause long-term harm.
The appeal for more understanding was made by the London-based World Travel & Tourism Council.
The body is led by chief executive Gloria Guevara, who, as a former Mexican tourism minister, was closely involved in 2010 with the aftermath, and recovery, from the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus.
There have now been more than 40,000 worldwide cases of the virus, with 98 per cent confined to China.
The death toll stands at 1,016.
Officials at the World Health Organisation have declared the outbreak a global health emergency.
Gloria Guevara said: “We must not stigmatise.
“The coronavirus will not be solved by singling out individuals or groups from any country, such as China or those in other parts of Asia.
“While some of this misguided action may be well-meaning and it is clearly important the tourism…