By Buddy G. Recio
The world is again in danger of a new strain of Corona virus.
With its origins coming from the city of Wuhan in China, the animal-borne virus has somehow managed to be transmitted from human to human and is now found in several countries where Chinese tourists abound. Fortunately, the Philippines is still free from the virus as of press time.
What should we be concerned about?
First, the Chinese are the number one tourists with more than 6 million outbound tourists. China is the primary source market of many countries all over the world and Wuhan, being the most populous city in Central China, is one of the top source markets of Chinese outbound tourists.
Second, China is the world’s fourth tourist destination with more than 62 million tourists visiting the country. In 2018. Wuhan, being a culture and heritage destination with attractive lakes and waterways where the Han and the Yangtze rivers meet, gets its own bulk of domestic tourists, and that’s a big number. The city can be reached many ways, by land, water, and rail.
Third, China is the world’s top spender in tourism spending USD277 billion in 2018, almost double the second ranking country, the United States with USD144 billion.
In the Philippines, China is closing in on South Korea as the top tourist source market. Sources from our DOT placed Chinese arrivals at almost 1.5M up 41%) against South Korea at 1.6 M(up 21.75%) from January to October 2019.
Fourth, Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday to the Chinese. This year, it will be from January 25 to February 4., then comes the Lantern festival on February 08.Chinese travel most at this time of the year.
With all these data, we can assume that the corona virus, if not checked by the Chinese government, will cause worldwide panic.
On the other hand, if very strict measures will be taken, and that means isolating cities, there will be a great downfall of the travel and tourism businesses and a significant economic downfall once more just like the SARS outbreak that also originated from China in 2002-2003. Almost a generation has passed since then and we tend to forget.
Is there a message being delivered? With all the brouhaha of the Chinese influence in travel and tourism, and countries scrambling to create their own China-X tourism year, a careful marketing strategy should be undertaken lest we go forward one step, but two steps backwards next.