As the coronavirus continues to spread, international corporate trips have largely been suspended as the travel sector braces for an estimated revenue hit of $820 billion, Reuters reported on Wednesday (March 11), citing an industry survey.
A survey by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) indicated that China has been the hardest hit, accounting for almost half of all travel-related losses. Business travel to Asia is suffering on a large scale with 75 percent of businesses surveyed saying they sidelined trips to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asia-Pacific locations.
Industry losses are mounting, far surpassing February’s projected loss of $560 billion.
“Coronavirus is significantly impacting the business travel industry’s bottom line,” Scott Solombrino, chief operating officer of GBTA, said in a statement. “The impact to the business travel industry — and to the broader economy — cannot be underestimated.”
Flights and room reservations account for a big piece of the corporate travel pie, but rooms and planes are mostly empty as diagnosed cases of Covid-19 mount.
Corporate trips are down in China 95 percent since the virus surfaced at the end of December. Losses have totaled $404.1 billion in China; Europe lost $190.5 billion, the survey said.
Diagnosed cases of the coronavirus have surpassed 115,800 people, with over 1,000 in the U.S. At least 4,200 have died of the virus globally, most of them in China, CNN reported at 5 a.m. on Wednesday (March 11).
China’s Hubei province, the nucleus of the epidemic, is now starting to return to regular business as new cases have dropped off. Public transportation is expected to start rolling again soon. Hubei’s capital Wuhan had been on lockdown since Jan. 23, along with other infected cities.
Italy’s population of 60 million is now totally on lockdown as public events are canceled and schools and businesses close. Industries have been hard-hit, with makers of everything from wine and cheese to leather shoes and handbags grapple with falling demand.