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Coronavirus to hit tourism in Asia-Pacific: report

Economy 08:56 March 27, 2020

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The outbreak of the new coronavirus is feared to hit tourism in the Asia-Pacific and cause the regional number of tourists to dip more than 10 percent this year, a report said Friday.

Asia-Pacific countries are likely to see their combined number of tourist arrivals drop 9 to 12 percent in 2020, bearing the brunt of the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the report by the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute.

The report, based on data from the World Tourism Organization and the International Air Transport Association, forecast the global number of international tourists to drop 1 to 3 percent in light of travel restrictions and the 2003 SARS outbreak.

This undated file photo shows a deserted lounge at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea is feared to be one of the hardest-hit countries in the Asia-Pacific area, given the fact that China, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, accounts for 20 percent of international tourism expenditures.

Other vulnerable countries are Thailand, Japan and Vietnam as they depend heavily on Chinese visitors for tourism revenue.

The fast spread of the novel coronavirus is also feared to cause the global aviation industry to suffer big losses in passenger numbers and revenue.

Should the spread of the coronavirus be limited, global passenger revenue would shrink by nearly US$63 billion this year.

Under such a scenario, South Korea would suffer a 14 percent decline in the number of air passengers with revenue falling by $2.8 billion.

Airlines across the world would see their combined passenger revenue tumble by $113 billion for all of 2020 if the disease spreads extensively, according to the report.

The World Health Organization has declared the new coronavirus a pandemic. The respiratory disease has infected more than 510,000 people globally, with the death toll passing 23,000.
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