The U.S. travel and tourism industry have taken blows before and weathered the storms from the 9/11 attacks, SARS and more.
Now one company that crunches tourism data says the spread of the coronavirus and the decision by President Trump to ban European tourists from 26 countries for one month could cost the industry its greatest price yet.
CNBC is reporting that data produced by Tourism Economics shows that the U.S. could lose at least $24 billion in foreign spending this year. CNBC, which was privy to a first look at the report, noted that would be equivalent to about seven times more than the industry lost during the SARS outbreak in 2003, and represents 8.2 million lost visitors in one year – a half-million more foreign visitors than the U.S. lost in 2001 and 2002 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Tourism Economics is a company that tracks all travel spending, including hotels, restaurants, theme parks and attractions. Its figures were based its projections on the assumption that the coronavirus would be contained in six months. Foreigners typically spend around $256 billion on U.S. travel and tourism a year.
So far, there have been more than 124,000 infections worldwide and at least 4,589 deaths from the virus, according to the World Health Organization.
“As it’s become a true pandemic, it’s affecting level of travel: travel advisories, companies canceling travel, and traveler behavior,” Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, told CNBC. “There is a deep risk aversion when a trip is a voluntary activity. Even if a flight exists and borders are open.”
Globally, Tourism Economics expects travel to fall 9.1% this year, the largest drop ever in the past 40 years that it has tracked the industry.
“This situation is truly unprecedented,” said Sacks.
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