Industry Update
Press Release19 May 2003

SARS has a Massive Impact on Travel & Tourism in Affected Destinations (WTTC Reports)

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World Travel & Tourism (WTTC)

At The 3rd Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Vilamoura, Portugal, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) released a special report on the economic impact of SARS on the Travel & Tourism industry in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. This special WTTC report has quantified the impact of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) on the four countries where the World Health Organization has declared travel advisories.


The WTTC estimates are based on WTTC's recently released 2003 Tourism Satellite Accounting research, which is produced with Oxford Economic Forecasting. They show that the impact will be massive.

WTTC/OEF has estimated that in 2003:

  • " In Vietnam 15 per cent of industry GDP and 62,000 industry jobs will be lost.
  • " In Singapore, 43 per cent of industry GDP and 17,500 industry jobs will be lost.
  • " In Hong Kong, 41 per cent of industry GDP will be lost, as well as 27,000 industry jobs, representing 38 per cent of total industry jobs in Hong Kong.
  • " In China, 25 per cent of the industry GDP will be lost and a total of 2.8 million industry jobs, or one fifth of total industry employment.

The WTTC/OEF research is based on the SARS crisis beginning to significantly impact Travel & Tourism in March 2003 and lasting 6 months in China, 4 months in Hong Kong and Singapore, and 3 months in Vietnam, with residual impacts through the end of 2004. The largest impact in each destination is felt in visitor exports from the loss of inbound traffic, while other impacts are also identified in the decline of personal and business travel by residents and local companies, as well as the postponement of certain capital investment.

Richard Miller, Vice President of Research and Economics for WTTC said, "The SARS crisis in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam is perhaps the most dramatic prolonged shutdown of the industry on record. Only the 9/11 events in the United States can serve as a point of reference and the SARS impact is 5 times greater. Although we do not expect the impact to be permanent, and in fact expect a return to normal levels of business by 2005, the short-term impact is unprecedented."

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, President of the WTTC said, "Our industry faces an enormous challenge in rebuilding these huge losses to the industry and the economies of these countries. We call on the public and private sectors in these countries and serving these countries to join forces and help restore visitor confidence and traffic at the earliest possible moment."

WTTC has posted details of its special SARS research on its website (

For further information please contact: Richard Miller Tel: +1 646 338 0300 or Email [email protected]

Editor's notes:

1. The figures are based on the Tourism Satellite Accounting research prepared for the WTTC by Oxford Economic Forecasting. TSA research quantifies all aspects of Travel & Tourism demand, from personal consumption to business purchases, capital investment, government spending and exports. It then translates this information into economic concepts of production, such as gross domestic product and employment, which can be compared with other industries and the economy as a whole to provide credible statistical information that will assist in policy and business decision processes.
2. The World Travel & Tourism Council is the forum for global business leaders in Travel & Tourism comprising the presidents, chairs and CEOs of 100 of the world's foremost companies. It is the only body representing the private sector in all parts of the Travel & Tourism industry worldwide.
3. The 3rd Global Travel & Tourism Summit is being organised by the World Travel & Tourism Council and will take place from May 15 to 17 in Vilamoura, Portugal. The event will be attended by top-level company executives and government officials from around the world, and other people involved in the Travel & Tourism industry at the most senior level. The Summit's main objectives are to help the Travel & Tourism industry to come together to rebuild confidence in the face of war, terrorism, disease and economic slowdown, to turn challenges into opportunities, to build a vision of 'New Tourism' and initiate a strategy to achieve it.

Speakers include Neil Armstrong, the astronaut, the Prime Minister of Portugal (José Manuel Durão Barroso), Chairman & CEO of Marriott International (Bill Marriott) the Chairmen of American Express (Ken Chenault), Qatar Airways (Akbar Al Baker), Iberia (Xabier de Irala), Six Continents (Sir Ian Prosser), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Barry Sternlicht), TUI (Michael Frenzel) and over 30 more top executives of companies of similar stature.

More information on the summit can be found at . For background information on the WTTC, please go to

China SARS Report
Vietnam SARS Report
Hong Kong SARS Report
Singapore SARS Report

You can view the SARS briefing given in Vilamoura on 15th May 2002, by clicking here!

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