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
HTML EMBED:
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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

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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