After three patients who returned from China tested positive for coronavirus in Kerala, its fallout is becoming evident on the tourism sector of the state.
On Tuesday, Kerala’s Minister Kadakampally Surendran stated in the legislative assembly that hotel bookings, which were full for February-March, have been cancelled amid the epidemic scare in the state.
The minister also pointed out this is another blow to the local tourism sector, which already suffered during an outbreak of the Nipa virus and also as a result of floods in recent years.
“Majorly foreign tourists have been cancelling bookings. We have seen five percent booking cancellation in past one week. But I am afraid that the percentage would go up if the menace continues”, Stephen, a hotel official from Kochi city in Kerala, told Sputnik.
In 2018, Kerala grappled with an outbreak of the Nipa virus, which killed over 15 people.
Although the local government has issued an advisory asking travellers to refrain from visiting affected districts, footfall decreased even in parts of the state that were declared safe by the regional health department.
Tourism Profession Club Secretary Paul told the media that the Nipa virus led to a 50 to 60 percent cancellation of bookings.
Similarly, during the floods in 2018 and 2019, when over 400 and 100 people lost their lives, respectively, state government and industry officials reckoned that during the floods, the tourism sector incurred losses worth $1,126 million in 2018 and $357 million in 2019.
Meanwhile, the latest novel coronavirus broke out in Wuhan city of China’s Hubei province. It has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation, as over 300 people in China have lost their lives and around 13,000 have been infected.
In India, suspected cases have been found in various states such as Karnataka, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu, but only three cases in Kerala have tested positive.