In one recent example, about 20,000 tourists canceled trips booked with a Tokyo-based tour company.
“I’ve been receiving cancellations constantly since this morning. This situation will hit us hard,” Sho Yamazoe, president of Kamome Tourist Co., said in a Tuesday interview with Thai newspaper The Nation.
The Tokyo-based Kamome group has reportedly had about 480 tours for roughly 20,000 people canceled in a matter of days.
“Many of our staff are coming to the office on their days off to cope with the situation, calling restaurants and shops that were included on our tours,” Yamazoe said.
The ongoing outbreak may also impact the ultimate bottom line for those in the tourism industry ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“The hotel and transportation industries that had prepared to receive visitors for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are getting a smack in the eye in the stage where they would be recouping their investments,” Shunsuke Kobayashi, senior economist at Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd., told The Nation.
Chinese leaders notably pushed back the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, the country's busiest travel season, by an extra three days to Feb. 2 to “reduce mass gatherings” and “block the spread of the epidemic.”
In Thailand, a popular destination for traveling during the Lunar New Year, officials estimate potential lost revenue at $1.6 billion. In Bangkok, many drugstores ran out of surgical masks while the number of Chinese tourists visiting for the holiday appeared to be much smaller than usual, the Associated Press reports.
Increasingly drastic anti-disease efforts began with the Jan. 22 suspension of airplane, train and bus links to Wuhan, a central China city of 11 million at the center of the outbreak. That lockdown has since expanded to a total of 17 cities, affecting more than 50 million people.
To date, the outbreak has killed 81 and sickened at least 2,700 others.
Since the coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, Chinese travel agencies were allegedly told to cancel plans for group tourism. Meanwhile, regional governments have restricted travel from Wuhan, closely monitoring other travelers and helping arrange evacuations of some foreigners trapped there.
The coronavirus poses the most immediate threat to the tourism industry and economy of China’s closest neighbors, though the U.S. and Europe may face major repercussions if the outbreak proves to be long-lived.
In 2018, nearly 3 million Chinese people traveled to the U.S., spending over $36 billion.
The larger impact of the coronavirus on both local and global tourism remains to be determined, depending on how long the outbreak lasts and if the Chinese government extends travel restrictions to major cities like Shanghai.
“Anything that goes on for a sustained period of time would obviously have a significant impact,” said Chris Heywood, spokesman for NYC & Company, the official tourism organization of New York City. “For us, China is a critically important market.”
Fox News' David Montanaro and the Associated Press contributed to this report.