Chinese authorities have ordered travel agencies across the country to suspend sales of domestic and international tours in a bid to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
The statement by the country President Xi Jinping was released by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on the evening of 24 January.
It halts all-new package sales until further notice while the ministry’s statement asked hotels and airlines to take care of its citizens who are already travelling or are booked on packages due to depart this week. The suspension will impact heavily during February and possibly well into March.
In Thailand alone, travel companies handled just short of 600,000 Chinese travellers booked on package tours in February and March last year, according to Association of Thai Travel Agents data for arrivals at Bangkok’s two airports, with 10 million Chinese tourists visiting in the first 3 months of 2019, 3 million on package tours.
2.03 million Chinese tourists visited Cambodia from January to October 2019, but no numbers on package tours are known.
It is reported that many airlines are offering refunds for flights, and there are fears across Asia that travel restrictions will hit other parts of the economy other than tourism.