spells disaster for inbound tourism, by John Garnault
& Julie Robotham - 25th April 2003
The Sydney Morning Herald)
global SARS epidemic has pushed Australia's international
tourism industry into its greatest crisis, the Federal
Government said yesterday.
epidemic was likely to render 2003 the worst in a
series of disastrous years for the $17billion industry,
completely erasing gains that flowed from the Sydney
by the Australian Tourism Export Council says overseas
arrivals dropped by 30per cent in April and forward
bookings from east Asian visitors have slowed to a
analysts estimate SARS has caused outward-bound tourist
numbers to drop sharply from all major east Asian
markets, including 50 per cent from China and 75 per
cent from Hong Kong.
spokesman for the Tourism Minister, Joe Hockey, said
SARS had compounded the worst series of disasters
the industry had faced, including the September 11
attacks, a global recession, the collapse of Ansett
and the Iraq war.
said international tourists outspend their domestic
counterparts by 10 to one.
arrivals fell by 2 per cent in 2001 and 0.2 per cent
last year, and are expected to fall more steeply this
year. Before the September 11 attacks, arrivals had
grown by 5 to 10 per cent annually since the mid-1980s.
World Health Organisation yesterday extended its warning
against non-essential travel to include new areas
of China, and to Toronto, where there have been 267
probable or suspected cases. Canada reacted furiously,
saying it would write to the organisation, "formally
challenging the WHO's assertion that Toronto is an
unsafe place to visit".
Canadian health department said it had not lost control
over the spread of the illnesses: "We have a
clear understanding of the specific settings in which
this virus has been transmitted in Canada and confidence
in the steps being taken to manage infection control."
scientists from the Canadian National Microbiology
Laboratory in Winnipeg said the coronavirus suspected
by the WHO of causing SARS had been found in only
40 per cent of patients it had studied, contradicting
Hong Kong research which found the virus in 90 per
cent of SARS patients.
Dr Julie Gerberding, the head of the Centres for Disease
Control and Prevention in the United States, said
it was possible some of the Canadian patients were
sick with bugs other than SARS, or that the tests
were insufficiently sensitive, or were used too late
in the course of the illness.
other SARS news:
Only one person in Australia - a nine-year-old NSW
boy - remains under investigation for SARS. A 57-year-old
woman in Western Australia was yesterday cleared of
having the disease.
The death rate from SARS in Hong Kong has increased
to 7.2per cent of reported cases - up from about 5
per cent earlier. Worldwide the death rate is now
5.9 per cent, compared to 4 per cent earlier. Hong
Kong experts said the death rate would inevitably
climb as more very sick patients died.
China sealed off the 1200-bed Beijing University People's
Hospital, barring anyone from entering or leaving,
a day after the WHO warned against travel to the city.
Vietnam's northern Quang Ninh province, home of the
Halong Bay tourist attraction, began barring Chinese
tourists at its land border gates and waterways. Hanoi's
health ministry has recommended the country seal all
its borders with China indefinitely.
Sydney Morning Herald
Tourism Export Council
for Disease Control and Prevention
Authority of Thailand