WTTC calculates global spending loss from China’s tourists alone

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) says world tourism will take a hit from a drop in spending by Chinese tourists.

The coronavirus epidemic will cost world tourism between US$22 billion and US$73 million simply owing to a drop in spending by Chinese tourists, according to the WTTC.

While it is too soon to really know the full effect, the WTTC has made a preliminary calculation, in collaboration with research firm Oxford Economics, that estimates how much the crisis will cost the sector.

This calculation is based on the experience of previous crises, such as SARS or H1N1, and is based on losses deriving from Chinese tourists who have not been travelling in recent weeks. Chinese tourists are the highest spenders when they travel.

The economies most likely to suffer would be those most dependent on Chinese tourism, such as Hong Kong and Macau, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.

These loss figures are only for Chinese tourists and will be multiplied by an unknown factor for global travel in 2020, particularly for South Korea, USA, Iran, Japan and Europe.

The decision, on public health grounds, to cancel ITB Berlin, the annual global travel conference and exhibition which includes a dedicated area for medical travel, is proof that tourism is living up to its responsibility to put people first.

Tourism is one of the leading economic sectors in the world. It is also a key driver of sustainable development and supports millions of livelihoods worldwide. UNWTO is working with its partners, including the World Health Organization to ensure the tourism sector responds to an evolving situation in a measured and responsible manner.

Medical tourism incorporates many patients with pre-existing conditions, plus patients who are older customers. These segments of the population are believed to be the most vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19.

There have been not calculations on how badly this sector will be hit. Only a very few medical travel destinations, Malaysia being one, have made public statements about the implications of the virus on their healthcare offering to international patients.