M'sia Expects Heavy Losses As Chinese Tourists Cancel Hotel Stays Amidst Virus Outbreak

The Wuhan coronavirus might is expected to impact the tourism industry in the country.

Cover image via Winson Wong/South China Morning Post

During the Chinese New Year, Macau was a near-ghost town after China issued a temporary ban on outbound group tours.

Now Malaysia is expected to face a somewhat similar situation.

Macau's latest figures have shown that tourists arrivals dropped 69% since Chinese New Year eve, after local authorities barred mainland Chinese from travelling into the country in an attempt to contain the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which is also known as the Wuhan coronavirus.

According to Reuters, Bali, Indonesia has seen more than 10,000 tourist cancellations while Thailand forecast that the country will lose as much as two million Chinese national tourists.

Countries like Vietnam and Japan, who receive five and 10 million Chinese national tourists respectively every year, will face detrimental losses too.

Macau, China.

Image via Jason Lee/Reuters

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said they are anticipating an immediate drop of up to 60% in hotel occupancy rates

MAH chief executive officer, Yap Li Seng, said hotel cancellations are running high in the country, especially at destinations China market loves, reported The Star.

In Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi, Yap foresees an immediate drop of 30% to 60% in hotel occupancy rates, while destinations like Melaka, Ipoh, Port Dickson, and Penang, hotel occupancy rates will drop about 10% to 50%.

All these are happening when Malaysia is targeting to hit 30 million tourist arrivals during 'Visit Malaysia 2020' campaign, with 3.4 millions coming from China

Yap said hotels and various industry stakeholders - including airlines and tour operators - are looking for urgent contingency plans to boost tourism from other markets.

New Straits Times reported Deputy Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik as saying that the ministry will do whatever it can to help industry players to mitigate the consequences caused by the virus outbreak.

While it is still early to see the full damage caused by the Wuhan coronavirus, Malaysia's current situation can be compared to the peak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003

That year, Malaysia suffered a 20.5% drop in total inbound tourists, after Malaysia issued a one-week travel ban on travellers from China, Hong Kong, and other countries, reported The Star.

Malaysia's tourism saw a 37.3% drop in Chinese national tourists, from 674,056 in 2002 to 422,624 in 2003.

In terms of the country’s tourism receipts, it totalled up to RM21.29 billion in 2003, a drop of 17.4% (or RM4.49 billion) compared to the RM25.78 billions in 2002.

The SARS outbreak ended up killing 700 people and infecting over 8,000 people in 29 countries.

As of today, 29 January, the Wuhan coronavirus has killed 132 people in China and infected over 6,000 people globally, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins CSSE.

Three more Chinese tourists in Malaysia have been confirmed to be infected by the virus today, 29 January:

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