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Bangkok to Bali: China virus threatens disaster for tourist hotspots

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Bangkok to Bali: China virus threatens disaster for tourist hotspots

By Keira Wright and Chayut Setboonsarng

 

2020-01-28T193604Z_1_LYNXMPEG0R1VG_RTROPTP_4_CHINA-HEALTH-THAILAND.JPG

People wear masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Bangkok, Thailand January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

 

BANGKOK/JAKARTA (Reuters) - The colourful dances of Bali's annual Kintamani Festival have fallen victim to coronavirus -- and travel restrictions to halt its spread could prove costly for other places that rely on Chinese tourists.

 

Promoted by the Indonesian island as a draw for Chinese holidaymakers, the Feb. 8 festival to celebrate the marriage of an ancient king of Bali to a Chinese princess has been called off in anticipation of a collapse in visitor numbers.

 

In other Asian destinations, too, fear of the virus is accompanied by worries that business is about to disappear.

 

"Restaurants, tourist attractions and small businesses in the villages will be affected," said Ketut Ardana, a business owner and vice-chairman of the Bali Tourism Board.

 

"It will have a big impact on everyone."

 

With a growing area of China in lockdown to try to stop the spread of the virus and overseas group tours banned, he said Bali had already seen nearly 10,000 tourist cancellations.

 

Just weeks after the disease emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, it has already infected more than 4,500 people and killed at least 106.

 

Thailand, the top destination for China's holidaymakers, forecast that Chinese tourist numbers would fall by as much as 2 million this year from 11 million in 2019.

 

"If they close China, we will die," complained Teerawat Buakaw, 33, who sells clothes at a Big C store popular with Chinese tourists in Bangkok, the world's most-visited city because of its Chinese tourist numbers.

 

"All the shops around here will go. What will we do?"

 

China's boom in outbound tourism has created a pattern of international travel unprecedented in human history and driven the growth of businesses to serve Chinese travelers around the world. From a trickle in the 1980s, Chinese tourist numbers grew to estimates of more than 160 million in 2019.

 

Coronavirus may have pulled the plug.

 

VULNERABLE

"Among the most vulnerable sectors to the Wuhan virus epidemic are the Asia-Pacific travel and tourism sectors," wrote Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific Chief Economist at IHS Markit.

 

"The Thai economy is particularly vulnerable to the new Chinese travel restrictions."

 

Thai stocks fell further on Tuesday to a new three-year low after slumping as much as 3% on Monday.

 

Thailand earned an estimated $18 billion from Chinese tourists in 2019. Other countries popular with Chinese tourists include Japan, with nearly 10 million visitors, and Vietnam with around 5 million.

 

The Tourism Authority of Thailand said it hoped other countries would make up for the lack of Chinese tourists, but Thailand must also contend with having had more coronavirus infections than anywhere outside China -- 14 so far.

 

Luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent Thailand Ltd., which has no Chinese customers, said it had not had cancellations yet.

 

Elsewhere in the region, immigration authorities in the Philippines said they would stop issuing tourist visas on arrival to Chinese nationals to try to keep the country free of the virus -- hurting a growing business there.

 

Malaysian authorities said their "Visit Malaysia 2020" plan to boost tourist numbers by 5 million to 30 million would take a jolt, but they still hoped to make up the numbers. Malaysia had nearly 5 million Chinese visitors last year.

 

Hoteliers in the beach playground of Bali hoped the same. China has become an ever bigger source of tourists for them -- their number regularly surpassing that of the traditional Australia hordes.

 

"Bali only has tourism. If there are no tourists, it is difficult for us," Ardana said. "We hope that other countries will still be coming."

 

(Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng, Orathai Sriring and Kay Johnson in Bangkok; Krishna N. Das and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Catherine Evans)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-01-29

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As with the SARS issue 17 years ago, less tourists means higher hotel prices! These people have no clue what is about to happen.

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We are in the US now and we're planing to come to Thailand in the next few months. Now we are monitoring the situation,

same with a couple of other friends who were planning to come to Thailand the next couple of months. I don't think we are isolated cases this thing is going to hurt turism from the west also, never mind increase to the point that it will make up for the Chinese shortfall.  

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19 minutes ago, sirineou said:

We are in the US now and we're planing to come to Thailand in the next few months. Now we are monitoring the situation,

same with a couple of other friends who were planning to come to Thailand the next couple of months. I don't think we are isolated cases this thing is going to hurt turism from the west also, never mind increase to the point that it will make up for the Chinese shortfall.  

I don't think it is the actual being here in Thailand even though Thailand is second to China in cases. But it is the travel on airplanes cooped in with the Chinese or even being at an airport that causes the concern. The transfer connection hubs are the ones to worry about. Up here in CM we have loads of Chinese and also have cases of the Coronavirus. My family are all a little on the cautious end. But the Thai government keeps on saying all is in control, especially the fearless honest elected leader. We all think he and his crony cabinet need to go to ground zero to really understand what is real fact or fiction.

Edited by holy cow cm
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I will be in Bali in June unless the situation goes crazy of course.

I expect hotel availability to be better, along with fewer tourists around.

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1 hour ago, sirineou said:

It is all nonsense, if indeed it is contagious at the incubation stage, they are only stopping the ones that had it for 10 days, how many that dont even know that they have it, are coming in right now? 

 I dont mean to be alarmist, but , if what they say is correct, then what we see now is only the tip of the iceberg. 

And you are absolutely right, In our house in Khon Kaen or our house in Florida we have limited contact with anyone, if things got bad we could load up on food and not even leave our house for weeks, But getting to Thailand on a plane is where you have your biggest chance of exposure.  Out connections are usually in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong or China, all are or about to be high risk areas. And not only because of the Chinese, but also all the ones who are infected by the Chinese that dont even know it yet.   I could be one of them,   

I think until we get a handle on this, people will err on the side of caution and stay home, I know I will.  

True. They already know it is contagious able to jump during incubation stage. 5 days at the least making the person sick up to a couple of weeks. 100 people have died so far, and that is only what we hear in the news. China is notorious for covering up real numbers. Thailand too. I was just on an Thai airways going to Bangkok and coming back to CM last week. Going I sat next to a Chinese guy sniffling and coughing - GREAT! Coming back you could hear the people that were sick and the plane was more than 60% Chinese. I could have it now, but don't think so, but I also need to travel in the next week back to BKK and I am probably going to hold off. your statement saying it is only the tip of an iceberg, I would not bet against that at all with any odds laid down. 

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Everyone take a holiday, cut your losses and let the virus be stopped and stop pissing and moaning about money dam it!

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On 1/29/2020 at 7:02 AM, holy cow cm said:

Up here in CM we have loads of Chinese and also have cases of the Coronavirus.

I thought the burning air kills all viruses and lots of people.

  • Haha 1

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Pattaya beach this morning almost void of tour groups....now if they just hand out pink slips to the jet ski,speed boat,tour bus,mini van,baht bus,scooter taxi and parasail operators ..serenity NOW

Edited by mok199

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I loved the old days ,maybe thai realize it one day

 

the western s*** tourists, always comming porkpest to birdflu. from airportclosing, to military action....

relliable income, even in bad  times

 

and hudge spenders..fall in love... buy house,condo,bar,beuaty shop  and many investements after the first trip

The thailand virus was a garantee for regular income

 

But this goverment have a track record, to wipe out the thailand virus, the only sucess in their eyes...would be good goverment had sucess in the important things,would be better, but their they failed all over

Edited by lapamita
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This is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket. Relying on Chinese mostly for their tourism money is going to hurt. Too much thinking like military instead of like politicians for businesses. Same things happen to any business that relies on one customer. Something goes wrong and viola, business goes down the tubes. Takes time to recover and the big question is will Thailand learn a less from this???

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