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Coronavirus Outbreak to Impact Tourism Industry in 2020 and Beyond



As a result of the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on tourism, a new study found that visits from Chinese nationals to the United States could drop by as much as 28 percent this year.

According to data from Tourism Economics, the coronavirus outbreak is being compared to the SARS epidemic of 2003, including the economic fallout associated with the illness and the resulting travel bans and cancellations.

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In total, data suggests the U.S. could lose $10.3 billion in cumulative Chinese travel spending in the coming years due to the impact of the viral infection. Since China’s economy has grown exponentially since the SARS epidemic, the damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak is expected to be much larger.

“We expect the most significant declines will be experienced in 2020 with recovery beginning in the latter part of this year,” the Tourism Economics report read. “While growth will accelerate in 2021, the entire recovery will span four years, like the SARS experience. A total of 1.6 million visits from China will be lost, with 56% of the loss occurring in 2020.”

The report also suggests the hotel industry would lose around four million room nights from Chinese visitors in 2020, with key destinations like California and New York feeling the most significant impact.

Other states feeling the pinch would include Nevada, Washington and Hawaii.

The report on the economic impact of the viral infection comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced new restrictions on travel to and from China, which barred entry to foreign nationals who recently visited China and started rerouting all incoming flights and American passengers onboard through one of eight approved airports.

In addition, travelers who visited China within the last 14 days will have to visit an approved health screening facility.

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U.S. State Department Stops Issuing Passports Amid COVID-19



The U.S. Department of State has scaled back its Passport Agency operations and will no longer be issuing new passports in view of the situation surrounding the still-escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel + Leisure pointed out that the release of this directive in late March coincided with the State Department’s issuance of a Level 4 travel advisory, which warns Americans to avoid all international travel and instructing those outside U.S. borders to return home immediately or risk being stranded abroad for an indefinite period of time.

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The Passport Divisions’ recent policy change mentioned that those who had already applied to obtain a new passport or renew an existing one prior to March 20, 2020, will not have their orders affected. The agency said that it would honor its commitment to fulfilling those expedited-service orders placed on or before March 19 within two to three weeks, door-to-door.

Moving forward, passports will be available only to persons facing qualifying life-or-death emergencies, such as serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in their immediate family, which require them to travel outside the United States within 72 hours’ time.

Such persons will need to not only provide their passport application and supporting documents, and proof of planned international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket or itinerary), but also proof of the life-or-death circumstance. This might include documents like a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional, and must be translated into English.

To make an appointment at a passport center in the event of a life-or-death emergency, one must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a. m. and 5:00 p.m., or Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST); or call (202) 647-4000 outside of regular business hours.

No indication was given as to when the State Department would again begin accepting passport applications. As is now the case among most organizations that are attempting to respond to the continually evolving pandemic, its future plans remain up in the air. The announcement only stated, “The status of our operations may change quickly. We will update this notice as the status changes.”

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