The coronavirus outbreak in China could have a damaging and lasting economic impact on the global tourism sector unless lessons are learned from previous viral epidemics.
That is according to a statement from Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, and comes as the coronavirus crisis escalates.
Guevara was formerly tourism minister for Mexico and was closely involved in 2010 with the aftermath, and then recovery, of the Mexican outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus in 2009.
The incident led to thousands of fatalities.
Analysis of previous major viral epidemics by experts from WTTC shows that the average recovery time for visitor numbers to a destination was 19 months, but with the right response and management could recover in as little as ten months.
The worldwide economic impact of H1N1 was estimated at up to US$55 billion, with the loss to 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 tourism sector by between US$30 and US$50 billion.
China alone suffered a 25 per cent reduction of tourism GDP and a loss of 2.8 million jobs.
While action is being taken, in…