Fears over the spread of Covid-19 are rising across Europe, threatening its tourism industry. Data shows the sector has already taken a serious hit and could be hurt even more.
According to EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, tourism is one of the sectors likely to be hit hardest financially as the coronavirus continues to spread. The sector is already losing €1 billion ($1.11 billion) a month because of the disease, he said.
The European Travel Commission has announced that 10 percent of European GDP is derived from tourism while in some EU member states, including Spain and Italy, that figure is as much as 14 percent.
Hotel cancellation rates in some areas of Italy have been reaching up to 90 percent. Tourism makes up 13 percent of the economy in that country, where over 3,800 cases of the virus have already been reported.
The world’s most popular museum, the French Louvre, shut down this week as employees refused to work over fears of contracting the disease. Last year, the Louvre received 9.6 million visitors, with almost three-quarters of them from abroad.
Experts say summer vacations could be off the table this year as tourists put off traveling in order to avoid catching the virus.
A prolongation of the crisis could seriously impact the global travel sector, according to Ian Harnett, co-founder and CIO of Absolute Strategy.
“If this gets extended, we’re talking about the impact on Easter holidays, potentially summer holidays, [and] whether the ‘staycation’ becomes the default for all of us here – that’s going to be tremendously damaging to these industries,” he told CNBC.
The United Nations said it was releasing $15 million from an emergency fund to help countries with fragile health systems to contain the virus. The World Bank has pledged $12 billion in aid for developing countries grappling with the spread of Covid-19.
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