Global tourism chief warns against coronavirus 'panic'

WTTC chief says past experience shows travel restrictions have greater economic impact than an outbreak itself

By: 24 News
Published: 02:37 PM, 24 Jan, 2020
World Travel and Tourism Council
Caption: WTTC chief Gloria Guevara expresses concerns
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The coronavirus outbreak in China could have a "lasting economic impact" on the global tourism sector if panic is allowed to spread, the World Travel and Tourism Council warned Friday.

"Previous cases have shown us that closing airports, cancelling flights and closing borders often has a greater economic impact than the outbreak itself," said WTTC chief Gloria Guevara. 

"Quick, accurate and transparent communication is also crucial in order to contain panic and mitigate negative economic losses. 

"Containing the spread of unnecessary panic is as important as stopping the virus itself," added Guevara, the former tourism minister of Mexico who was closely involved in 2010 with the aftermath of the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus. 

The worldwide economic impact of H1N1 was estimated at up to $55 billion (50 billion euros), according to the London-based group. 

China, meanwhile, suffered a 25 percent reduction of tourism GDP and a loss of 2.8 million jobs due to the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Chinese authorities rapidly expanded a mammoth quarantine effort aimed at containing the deadly coronavirus contagion on Friday to 13 cities and 41 million people, as nervous residents were checked for fevers and the death toll climbed to 26.