Dream Cruises’ World Dream cruise ship is currently docked in Hong Kong, as the 3,500-plus passengers onboard are being screened for coronavirus after it was discovered that three previous passengers had been infected with the virus.
“Currently, health screening for all crew members has been completed and health screening for all passengers is still underway. All passengers and crew onboard must stay on the boat before the quarantine is completed and with permission from the Department of Health,” Dream Cruises said in a statement on social media.
All passengers onboard are still being taken care of with food, WiFi, and other basic services, though other areas onboard are closed “to minimize crowds.”
Elsewhere on Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess yesterday, 10 additional people onboard tested positive for the coronavirus, as officials completed their screenings. Those guests were transported to a local hospital, while the rest remain quarantined onboard for at least the next two weeks.
“The well-being of our guests and crew remains our top priority, and we are working diligently to improve their experience during this challenging time … Guests will continue to be provided complimentary internet and telephone to use in order to stay in contact with their family and loved ones, and the ship’s crew is working to keep all guests comfortable,” Princess Cruises said in a statement.
The $46 billion global cruise industry is closely monitoring the situation, as cruise lines are forced to cancel sailings and reroute ships.
Royal Caribbean has canceled eight cruises out of China and modified itineraries for other trips, including the complete removal of its Spectrum of the Seas ship from service in China. On in its fourth-quarter earnings call Tuesday, the cruise line said the restrictions would cost it $50 million in revenue.
“It seems likely that we will have to cancel more, but we don’t know how many,” Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said during the call. “This is all very disappointing to us.”
The Bahamian government has also informed cruise lines that guests who have been to China in the last 20 days before their arrival date in The Bahamas, will not be allowed to disembark in a Bahamian port of call.
Hong Kong has shut down both of its cruise terminals until further notice; and Taiwan’s health ministry said Thursday it will prohibit all international cruise ships from its ports.
Airlines cancel more flights
Virgin Australia will permanently withdraw all of its services between Australia and Hong Kong amid the coronavirus outbreak and ongoing civil unrest, as it’s “no longer a commercially viable route.” The carrier will cease its Melbourne-Hong Kong service on Feb. 11, which was previously suspended in November; and the Sydney-Hong Kong route will end on Mar. 2.
Air France announced on Thursday it has extended a suspension of flights to and from mainland China for much of March.
Dutch carrier KLM also confirmed it would extend a ban on flights to China as a result of the virus outbreak. In an online statement, KLM said it would prolong the suspension of its flights to Beijing and Shanghai through Mar. 15.
Japan Airlines said it will suspend some flights to Beijing and Shanghai from Feb. 17 until Mar. 28. ANA also said it will temporarily decrease or suspend operations to and from selected cities starting Feb. 10, including Beijing and Shanghai.
Economic impact grows
Given the size of the Chinese travel market – the number of Chinese people traveling abroad skyrocketed from 10.5 million in 2000 to 150 million in 2018 – the potential impact of the coronavirus is much larger than SARS in 2003.
According to a study by Tourism Economics, visits by Chinese nationals to the U.S. will drop by as much as 28% in 2020 due to the deadly coronavirus, with California and New York hit the hardest. The report estimates the U.S. will experience a loss of 1.6 million visitors from mainland China alone, not including potential losses from other markets in Asia.
Approximately 65% of Chinese visitors to the U.S. stay in a hotel with an average length of stay of 15 nights. Tourism Economics noted a potential 28% drop in visits to the U.S. from China in 2020, which would result in a loss of 4.6 million hotel room nights sold and US$5.8 billion in visitor spending.
In mainland China, preliminary data and analysis from STR shows a hotel occupancy decline of 75% from Jan. 14-26.
Passenger flights in China, excluding foreign flyovers, fell 12.1% year-on-year from the first day of the Lunar New Year travel period, Jan. 10-Feb. 4, according to state news agency Xinhua, citing China’s aviation authority. For Feb. 4 alone, the drop was 63.8%, the report said.