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: Marketplace Morning Report
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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
Businesses are being held responsible for screening virus carriers. If an outbreak happens, they could get shut down. Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images
Share Now on:
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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

Will the federal government extend the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

It’s still unclear. Congress and President Donald Trump are deciding whether to extend the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits workers are getting because of the pandemic. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia believes the program should not be extended, and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the additional money is disincentivizing some workers from returning to their jobs. Democrats want to keep providing the money until January.

As states lift restrictions, are people going back to stores and restaurants?

States have relaxed their restrictions, and many of us have relaxed, too. Some people have started to make exceptions for visiting restaurants, if only for outdoor dining. Some are only going to places they trust are being extra cautious. But no one we’ve talked to has really gone back to normal. People just aren’t quite there yet.

Will surges in COVID-19 cases mean a return to lockdowns?

In many areas where businesses are reopening, cases of COVID-19 are trending upwards, causing some to ask if the lockdowns were lifted too soon, and if residents and businesses might have to go through it all again. So, how likely is another lockdown, of some sort? The answer depends on who you ask. Many local officials are now bullish about keeping businesses open to salvage their economies. Health experts, though, are concerned.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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