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COVID-19

China’s first holiday break since COVID-19 sees 60% drop in tourism revenue

David Brancaccio, Jennifer Pak, and Alex Schroeder May 6, 2020
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Businesses are being held responsible for screening virus carriers. If an outbreak happens, they could get shut down. Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

China’s first holiday break since COVID-19 sees 60% drop in tourism revenue

David Brancaccio, Jennifer Pak, and Alex Schroeder May 6, 2020
Heard on:
Businesses are being held responsible for screening virus carriers. If an outbreak happens, they could get shut down. Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

China is just coming off a five-day spring holiday, officially extended a year ago in the hope a longer break would spur tourism.

But the calculation is already in: Tourism revenue in China was down 60%, to only $6.8 billion, during this Labor holiday.

Some are definitely still afraid to travel given the COVID-19 outbreak, but it’s also that there are still many virus prevention measures that deter people from traveling.

Before you travel on vacation, you’re going to have to answer a couple of questions. Will it affect your child’s schooling? Some schools, for example, require students to self-quarantine if they leave the city, like in southwestern China’s Kunming city.

Another question is, is it going to affect your work?

“This week, there’s a government press tour in Shanghai of schools reopening. But because I left Shanghai last week, on vacation, I’m now disqualified from attending,” Marketplace’s Jennifer Pak told “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.

China has also shut its borders to outsiders. “So, if I leave now, I’m not going to be allowed back into the country, even though I have a valid work visa,” Pak said.

For China’s tourism and hospitality industries, it’s going to be a struggle. Businesses are held responsible for screening virus carriers, and if an outbreak happens, they could get shut down. So business owners are being extra cautious.

Right now there’s a narrative in the Chinese press that most of the COVID-19 cases are imported.

“Even though a lot of those are Chinese nationals returning from abroad, in practice, it means foreigners like myself are being treated like a business liability,” Pak said. “So I couldn’t book, recently, a seat on a budget carrier, and some hotels won’t take foreigners.”

One hotel owner in the southwestern Yunnan province said that he expects his business might return to only 50% of what it used to be by summertime.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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