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‘Tourism: The Great Patient of Coronavirus COVID-2019’

Folinas, Sotiris and Metaxas, Theodore (2020): ‘Tourism: The Great Patient of Coronavirus COVID-2019’.

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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the extent to which an epidemic such as 2019-nCoV can affect the global tourism industry and the recording of the first estimates of the damage to world tourism. Countries such as China, where the epidemic began, but also Italy, where new cases are constantly being reported, are no longer tourist destinations. Potential tourists tend to postpone or cancel their plans for a destination that is plagued by a pandemic, especially when its main features are scarce of effective antivirus drugs and vaccines, the rapid spread of the virus and the damage that can cause to health (Reisinger & Mavondo, 2005). In cases of pandemics, tourists cancel their travels avoiding suspect places and people (Nicholl, 2006). Such kinds of pandemics affect directly industries such as tourism and retail service sector (Lee & McKibbin, 2004). The economic consequences of this outbreak will be serious and they will cause damages not only to the tourist destinations with an important concentration of cases but also at a global level. A similar case is the outbreak of SARS in 2002 (Chou et al, 2003; Siu & Wong, 2003; Wen, 2003). Tourism is currently –March 2020- one of the most affected sectors and the World Tourism Organization has revised its 2020 forecast for international arrivals and receipts, though it emphasizes that such predictions are likely to be further revised (UNWTO, 2020). The United Nations specialized agency for tourism expects that international tourist arrivals will be down by 20% to 30% in 2020 when compared with 2019 figures. An expected fall of between 20-30% could translate into a decline in international tourism receipts (exports) of between US$300-450 billion, almost one-third of the US$ 1.5 trillion generated in 2019. Taking into account past market trends, this would mean that between five and seven years’ worth of growth will be lost to COVID-19 (UNWTO, 2020).

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