Skift Take

The coronavirus not only exposes the varying political alignments between Asian governments with China, but also their different approaches to crisis communications, all of which would have knock-on impacts on travel confidence to a country.

The deadly coronavirus is proving to be an increasingly difficult issue for many Asian countries. Not only are the region’s governments facing a spreading virus outbreak that has surpassed the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in its fatality toll, they are also grappling with eroding trust among their populations as fallouts from the coronavirus deepen beyond tourism and the related industries.

As countries weigh the pros and cons between protecting citizens and their alignment with China, there is a remarkable disparity in how Asian governments have moved to restrict the entry of Chinese visitors as well as their approaches to crisis communication.

One particular standout is Singapore. When panic buying swooped across Singapore after the government raised the pandemic alert level last Friday, the country’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong issued a public statement to quell panic and anxiety, reminding residents that “fear can do more harm than the virus itself.” The Singaporean leader as well as the government have largely won praise for the country’s swift and firm handling of the coronavirus crisis.

While it’s unclear how long the virus outbreak will last, pragmatic Singapore, as the story below shows, could offer a playbook on how staying clean is the best policy in crisis management and attempting to retain traveler confidence.

— Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Skift Asia Editor, [email protected], @xinyi_pholsena

Skift Stories and More Expert Insights

Singapore Slashes Visitor Arrival Estimates by a Third for 2020 as Coronavirus Tests Its Mettle: The growing number of coronavirus cases in Singapore has heightened worries about human-to-human transmission among travelers, but the government’s swift and clear response is proving to be a fine lesson in crisis management.

What Will Be the Blowback From China to Countries That Banned Its Travelers During Virus Outbreak? Group’s James Liang warned that countries that impose blanket bans on Chinese travelers will see a China tit-for-tat later. It may not happen, but here are some of the ways it could.

When the crisis is over, will tourism be wielded as a tool for China to get back at countries that ban Chinese arrivals? Photo: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Finnair Predicts Coronavirus Will Have Limited Impact on Financials of Airlines: As long as the flight suspensions don’t last too long, Finnair thinks the impact of the coronavirus outbreak should be fairly limited. The problem is at the moment no one knows exactly how quickly, or how easily, it will spread across the rest of Asia and possibly the world.

Travel Megatrends 2020: Gen Z Asserts Itself as Travel’s Next Big Opportunity: The millennial generation has been at the forefront of the collective mind of the travel industry for years. But starting in 2020, Generation Z will begin entering adulthood. The travel industry would be wise to shift some focus here if it wants to stay ahead of the game.

Tripadvisor Takes Greater Pricing Control Over Tours and Activities: Tripadvisor is trying to squeeze more revenue and profits out of its newly restructured tours and activities business. There’s a danger, though, that well-funded rivals might undercut Tripadvisor’s efforts.

This Rooftop Beekeeper Helps the Mandarin Oriental in Paris Stay Eco-Friendly: The Mandarin Oriental, Paris, has some very special guests on its rooftop: bees. Someone has to take care of them. Enter this marketing man turned beekeeper who has no fear of heights — or bee stings.

Asia Editor Xinyi Liang-Pholsena [[email protected]] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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Tags: airlines, china, coronavirus, gen z, singapore, skift asia weekly, tripadvisor

Photo credit: With its wide array of attractions and safe image, Singapore is a magnate for leisure and business travelers alike. Singapore Tourism Board

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