Coronavirus outbreak impacts NI tourism after 3,000 hotel rooms and tours cancelled by Chinese tourists

The NI tourism industry has been dealt a blow by the coronavirus outbreak in China, according to industry bodies and firms.
Passengers wear masks as they arrivePassengers wear masks as they arrive
Passengers wear masks as they arrive

It has been reported that as many as 3,000 hotel rooms have been cancelled by Chinese tourists between January and March.

According to the BBC, coach companies have also had tours cancelled as far away as the summer.

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To date Covid-19 has killed more than 1,800 people and infected more than 72,000.
Airlines have restricted flights in and out of China and large areas have been placed into quarantine.

Tourism Ireland estimates 100,000 Chinese tourists visited the island of Ireland in 2018.

It has cancelled a planned sales mission to the country at the end of the month and has suspended social media advertising with industry partners.

The cancellation of trips has had an effect on coach companies in particular, with one now looking to other markets for business.

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Caroline McComb, of McComb’s Coaches, told BBC News NI she depends heavily on the Asian market.

“We have already seen a massive impact on current and future bookings because of coronavirus,” she said.

“Many of our agents who work in Asia have been contacting us because before they would have had a non-cancellation policy.

“They now need to know that for any bookings that need to be cancelled that they’ll receive a full refund.

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“Several of our vehicles are Chinese vehicles and they use parts that are unique to a Chinese supplier. We currently have two off the road because we cannot get the parts.

“Obviously it’s a major worry for us for the year ahead that coronavirus will stop people from Asian countries coming to Northern Ireland so we are trying to diversify and target other markets.

“The entire tourism industry in Northern Ireland is obviously going to be affected by this and because Asia is such a growth market for us we really do need to work hard to develop other markets.”