Skift Take

Once again a deadly health scare proves to be the only thing that can stop travel. The older Asian tourism members understand this from the SARS crisis, and now the millennials are witnessing it too.

It has often been said that nothing, be it a recession or a natural disaster, will stop people from traveling. The only thing that can, and will, is a health scare.

Asia learned that only too well from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis in 2002 and has dreaded anything like it since.

This is why the new novel coronavirus is Asia’s most important challenge in nearly two decades, especially with the World Health Organization retracting its initial assessment that the global risk of the Wuhan virus was “moderate.” It now places the risk as “very high in China, high at the regional level, and high at the global level.”

The fact that China took such a drastic action as banning all domestic and international trips by citizens effective Monday should also send signals of how dire the situation is.

Travel businesses have already suffered, as our article below shows, with Asian destinations being the most impacted as they are highly dependent on the China market. This, despite their knowledge it’s never good to put all your eggs in one basket.

Just how much more the industry will be impacted depends on whether the coronavirus can be contained. In this, everyone is trying to do his or her bit, because there’s so much at stake. Most important of all, people’s lives.

— Raini Hamdi, Skift Asia Editor, [email protected], @RainiHamdi

Skift Stories and More Expert Insights

Asian Destinations Reel From China’s Outbound Travel Ban: For a string of Asian destinations, China is by far the number one market, so the outbound travel ban by the country effective Monday has shaken tourism businesses even though they know it is for the good.

Fighting the virus. The Associated Press.

China Cancels Group Trips as Coronavirus Control Measures Expand: It’s going to be a long, cold winter for China’s travel industry and for businesses that rely on outbound Chinese tourists, as the novel coronavirus epidemic expands, and people stay put during China’s biggest travel season.

What the Coronavirus Means So Far for the Travel Industry: The travel industry is starting to feel the impact from this latest global health crisis. How it responds to help contain the spread of the virus will set a new precedent while weathering an extensive disruption to its business.

Travel Megatrends 2020: Travel Payments Find Path to Painless: Global payments technology and rules are changing swiftly, led by seamless innovations in Asia that are making life easier for consumers. Travel companies of all sizes are finally taking action in order to stay competitive.

Tripadvisor to Lay Off 200 Workers With Experiences Business in Line of Fire: Along with its dining reservations business, Tripadvisor’s tours and activities unit had been a bright spot. But well-funded competitors such as GetYourGuide and Klook have tightened the race, and Tripadvisor is feeling it.

Google Flights Ends Booking Charges for Airlines That Paid: With potential pressure from U.S. regulatory authorities and perhaps displeasure from airlines, Google is making the biggest change to the way it monetizes flight search since it launched Google Flights in 2011. Perhaps free search engine optimization for flights isn’t dead after all.

Opening Closed Doors: Can Hotels Do More to Fight Human Trafficking? Human trafficking touches every corner of the travel industry — especially hotels. And while the accommodations sector didn’t create the problem, it does have an elevated responsibility to put an end to it. The question is: How effective have the industry’s efforts been so far?

Asia Editor Raini Hamdi [[email protected]] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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Tags: coronavirus, google flights, human trafficking, skift asia weekly, travel payments, tripadvisor

Photo credit: Tourists and locals don masks in Bangkok. Xinyi Liang-Pholsena / Skift

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