Global tourism takes major hit as virus halts Chinese travel

Disinfection equipment is carried by a worker as precautionary measures against the spreading of novel coronavirus, at Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. So far almost 900 passenger arriving directly from China have been examined at the airport. (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP)

This should have been a good year for global tourism, with trade tensions gradually easing, certain economies growing and banner events like the Summer Olympics taking place in Tokyo. But the viral outbreak in China has thrown the travel industry into chaos, threatening billions in losses and keeping millions of would-be travelers at home. Thirty airlines have suspended service to China. Cruise lines have cancelled more than a dozen Chinese cruises. And hotel rooms in China are largely empty. Before the outbreak, the United Nations World Tourism Organization was forecasting growth of 3-4% in global tourism this year, up from 1.5 billion tourist arrivals in 2019.