Hello Kitty Land Tokyo has announced a "temporary" three-week closure of its popular theme parks Hello Kitty Land Tokyo and Harmonyland until Thursday, 12th March 2020 due to the risk presented by the Coronavirus.
The attraction advises that the temporary closure is a precautionary measure and in line with official health and safety recommendations and preventive efforts with respect to the Coronavirus impacting Japan and other countries.
The viral outbreak that began in China two months ago has infected more than 80,000 people globally and killed over 2,700, the vast majority of them in China.
However, the virus has now gained a foothold in South Korea, the Middle East and Europe, raising fears of a pandemic.
In Japan itself, there are reports of four deaths with the government having confirmed over 850 Coronavirus infections, yet most of these originate from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked in Yokohama. Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that the government had put in place a basic policy to allow its medical system to cope with any further spread of the Coronavirus, while maintaining that Japan has only seen small groups or “clusters” of infections.
Hello Kitty Land Tokyo released a statement that it deeply regrets any inconvenience this temporary measure may cause visitors.
Australasian Leisure Management Editor, Karen Sweaney understands that while the attractions prioritise their guests’ safety, some media outlets have noted that for these attractions, like many others in Asia, to run profitably, they rely on a large influx of Chinese tourists. Since the Coronavirus outbreak, the international tourism market has been significantly impacted by the reduction in Chinese tourists.
The Coronavirus epidemic is taking its toll on global tourism, which according to the World Travel & Tourism Council contributed $8.8 trillion to the world economy in 2018. Some economists say the epidemic could be the biggest drag on global economic growth since the financial crisis, with airlines alone expected to lose some $29 billion in revenues this year.
Japan, like other Asian countries closest to China are feeling the brunt of the Coronavirus crisis, however the effects are spreading. Venice recently cut short its annual carnival celebration, and the Italian government shut down travel to 10 towns in Italy's Lombardy region after a surge in new cases there.
In recent years, countries in South East Asia have invested heavily in theme park attractions and resorts to capture the growing demand of Chinese tourists. Now the tourism industry including airlines, hospitality and tour operators are suffering from a rush of cancellations and a drop in future bookings, primarily from mainland China, but also from Western travellers fearing the spread of the virus in the region.
According to GlobalData Travel and Tourism Director, Animesh Kumar the economic impact is escalating with countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore, each expected to lose at least $3 billion in tourism-related revenues.
Editor's note: Conference organiser IQPC has advised that its second Attractions, Amusement & Entertainment Development Asia conference, due to be held this week in Singapore, has been postponed "due to the current situation with COVID-19 - Coronavirus outbreak."
The event will now be held on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd June.
Click here for more information on the 2020 Attractions, Amusement & Entertainment Development Asia conference in the Australasian Leisure Management industry Calendar.
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