From the Galeries Lafayette in Paris to the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, tourist havens are feeling the absence of Chinese visitors, who normally would be flooding the globe during this Lunar New Year.
The cause of their unlucky fortunes is the new coronavirus that has struck nearly 6,000 people and killed more than 130 in China. Concerns about spreading or catching the virus were causing travelers to cancel plans even before China on Monday stopped allowing tour groups to leave the country. Individual travelers can still leave, but many are also opting to cancel, according to tourism officials.
A minor part of the global tourism trade until the 2000s, Chinese visitors are now the most lucrative group for many countries. Nearly 168 million residents of China went outside the country in 2018, according to the U.N. World Tourism Organization, and spent some $277 billion. That is more than three times the travelers and five times the spending of a decade earlier.