March 11, 2020 / 6:22 AM / 6 days ago

Business travel sector to lose $820 billion in revenue on coronavirus hit: industry group

Passengers wearing face masks stand on a moving walkway at Beijing Capital International Airport as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

(Reuters) - The global business travel sector is expected to take a revenue hit of about $820 billion, with China accounting for nearly half of the losses, as corporates curb travel plans in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, an industry body said bit.ly/38HSMrG on Tuesday.

Business travel to Asia has been the worst hit, with at least three out of every four companies reporting they have canceled or suspended all or most business trips to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asia-Pacific countries, according to a survey by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

The industry group’s latest estimate is sharply above its February forecast of a $560 billion hit.

The fast-spreading virus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in China, while disrupting businesses globally.

“Coronavirus is significantly impacting the business travel industry’s bottom line,” GBTA Chief Operating Officer Scott Solombrino said in a statement.

“The impact to the business travel industry – and to the broader economy – cannot be underestimated.”

China, which has seen a 95% drop in business travel since the outbreak, is expected to lose $404.1 billion in revenue from corporate travel, followed by $190.5 billion in loss for Europe.

Airline and hotel industries, which typically are the biggest beneficiaries of corporate spending, have taken a major hit to their revenue as the virus continues to spread, the industry group said.

(This story has been refiled to correct paragraph one to say in the “face”)

Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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