Coronavirus: tourism under high-voltage in South-East Asia

Pattaya | Hotels are empty, the beaches deserted, cancellations in series: the South-East Asia, particularly dependent on the tourism, the country has high price for the epidemic of coronavirus with losses valued at several billion euros.

The atmosphere is gloomy in the resort town of Pattaya, one of the favorite destinations of Chinese in Thailand: the sea front, usually so animated, was depopulated, the boats remain at the dock, and the stalls of the floating market are gray mine.

Coronavirus: le tourisme sous haute-tension en Asie du Sud-Est

In the elephant camp in Chang Siam Park, attraction, landmark of the city, My Mya, selling souvenirs, saw sti’s revenues fall by half. “If this continues, I will have to leave with me,” sighed the young wife of the seafaring Kayan, a long golden necklace to spiral around the neck.

The park welcomed 1 500 to 2 000 visitors per day. “They are not more than 200 today, and I have already lost two million baht” (around 86 000$ Can), tells the AFP Nantakorn Phatnamrob, owner of the camp.

In Cambodia, even the famous temples of Angkor are no longer a recipe: the sale of tickets has dropped by 30 to 40%, according to the ministry of Tourism.

Coronavirus: le tourisme sous haute-tension en Asie du Sud-Est

The result is the same in Vietnam: 13 000 hotel rooms have already been cancelled in Hanoi and the attendance of the jewel of the country, the Bay of Halong, has fallen by more than 60%.

To show that they have learned the lessons of the SARS epidemic of 2002/2003, the chinese authorities have taken drastic measures against the new coronavirus that has killed, for the moment, more than 1,500 people and affected tens of thousands.

Beijing has placed since the end of January, 56 million people in quarantine and forbidden to the whole of the population travels abroad.

Result: the Thailand, which hosted 11 million Chinese in the last year (27% of all its foreign tourists), recorded in the beginning of February a fall in visitors from the Middle kingdom “more than 86%,” according to the minister of Tourism, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

In Vietnam, chinese tourists have virtually disappeared with the collapse of the “90 to 100%” depending on the areas.

Coronavirus: le tourisme sous haute-tension en Asie du Sud-Est

The contagion spreads to European, American gold Australians who renounced their trip for fear of the coronavirus, even if the latter prevails for the time being mainly in mainland China and only a few people have been infected in South-East Asia.

Billions of euros of losses

This new situation could be catastrophic for the economies of the region, highly dependent on tourism.

In Thailand, the sector represents 20% of GDP and the losses associated with the epidemic is expected to reach this year almost € 7.4 billion (1.5% of GDP), according to Don Nakornthab, a senior official at the central Bank of thailand.

Vietnam believes his side that he will lose between 5.4 and 7.1 billion euros in the next three months.

But what will happen if, as feared by some specialists of the tourism industry, the effects propagate message ” in the long run until 2021 “?

Aware of the risk, Thailand and Cambodia do not refuse chinese tourists, content to strengthen the controls in the airports and at border crossings.

The thai authorities are going to even offer them gratis visas.

And the cambodian Prime minister, Hun Sen, plays the VRP. Denouncing ” the disease of fear “, he does everything to curry favour with Beijing, its close ally, and bring back the Chinese in the kingdom.

The vietnamese authorities want, they, much more protectionist: they have banned flights to and from mainland China, and the passenger trains have been halted.

As in Laos, it has closed sti land border with China and a number of daily flights have been cancelled.

“Since, we do not see more Chinese, and the situation may get even worse “, told AFP the Ngo Tau, seller of fruit juice in the old colonial city of Luang Prabang.

Number of travel agencies and hoteliers from the region break the price, and have expanded their policies to permit their clients to defer toll their stay, in order to mitigate cancellations.