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An industry group said the coronavirus could scythe $560 billion (£431 billion) from spending on corporate travel this year, a 37 percent drop from its 2020 global expenditure forecast, as meetings and events are cancelled and companies limit travel to protect employees.

The U.S.-based Global Business Travel Association said two-thirds of polled members had postponed at least a few events, while 95 percent had suspended or cancelled most or all trips to China and 23 percent to European countries such as France, Germany and Italy.

The virus was fundamentally affecting the way companies do business, said the association’s chief operating officer Scott Solombrino.

“If this turns into a global pandemic, the industry may well lose billions of dollars – an impact that will have negative ramifications for the entire global economy,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

The world prepared for a coronavirus pandemic on Friday as hopes that the disease could be contained to China vanished and investors dumped equities in expectation of a global recession.

Of the projected lost corporate travel spending, the industry group said nearly $400 billion relates to China, where the virus originated late last year, and $109 billion in Europe, where it has spread to several countries.

Many airlines and hotel groups have warned of a hit to earnings as the outbreak led to reduced bookings and more cancellations.

Asian economies could lose $105 billion to $115 billion in gross domestic product this year as tourism slumps following the outbreak, Dutch bank ING said on Monday.

(Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

This article was from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Photo Credit: As the virus spreads globally, meetings and events are cancelled and companies limit travel to protect employees. Kham / Reuters