World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) President Gloria Guevara is warning against disproportionate reactions and the possible stigmatization of Chinese and Asian tourists as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, noting that it may cause long-term harm.
“We must not stigmatize. The coronavirus will not be solved by singling out individuals or groups from any country, such as China or those in other parts of Asia,” said Guevara, adding that Chinese tourists account for 16 percent of the world’s international travel spending.
“There is no doubt that travel and tourism to and from China brings huge cultural and economic benefits to the world. At WTTC we believe the sector is a force for good and unites people no matter where they are from,” she said.
Guevara also called for closer public and private partnerships towards aiding the sector’s recovery once the spread of the virus begins to subside.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially named the disease caused by the coronavirus as “Covid-19”.
According to WHO on February 12, there were 45,171 confirmed cases in 24 countries, 44,730 of which in China, where it has led to the death of 1,114 people.
The organization said it was developing a masterplan to address the virus with a set to be vaccine ready for human trials in three months’ time.
Meanwhile, in Greece, tourism stakeholders are expecting the number of Chinese travelers to decline impacted by the virus. Indicatively, according to tentative data, the number of Chinese travelers to Greece in 2019 rose by 31 percent against the previous year. Tourism experts were expecting to see China among the top 10 Greek source markets for 2020 thanks in large part to new direct airline links, but dozens of package trips and seats have been cancelled.
Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias is in Brussels today to participate in an emergency EU ministers meeting on the coronavirus.