The U.S. travel industry is already feeling the impact of the spread of coronavirus, both by the large and lucrative Chinese market, and by tourists and travelers overall who are becoming more skittish regarding travel, according to Virginia Tech expert Nancy McGehee.  

“Early numbers point to estimated losses of up to $10 billion over the next four years,” according to McGehee. “The U.S. Travel Association reports that the average Chinese visitor spent a whopping $6500 per visit in 2018. This is not just a blip on the radar but a pretty deep hit from which it will take a while to recover.”

McGehee,  a professor and department head of the Hospitality and Tourism Management program in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, says the fallout will be global, both for U.S. inbound and outbound travel.

“Many American travelers are canceling international travel, not only because of fear of coronavirus, but because of the potential for either getting stuck out of the country or being a burden on the systems of other countries,” said McGehee.

She offers the following advice for those making travel plans:

·         If you are booking, ask in advance about the cancellation policy. Make sure to get the policy in writing and have a plan for cancellation or re-routing.

·         Book with trusted and established companies.

·         If you’ve already booked, reach out to your providers and see what their current policies are.  Keep an eye on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization) announcements for various parts of the world.

·         If you purchase travel insurance, read the fine print and make sure coronavirus related changes are covered under the policy.

McGehee says there are a broad range of sectors of the travel and tourism market that will be impacted by the virus.

“Hotels, restaurants, attractions, and all forms of transportation including airlines, mass transit, ride share companies, and of course the cruise industry,” she said. “The cruise industry is seeing a shift toward cruises closer to home, such as the Caribbean and Alaska. They can be fairly nimble and move their fleets to where the demand is located.”

Read Nancy McGehee’s Bio

Schedule an interview

To secure a live or recorded interview with Nancy McGehee, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.  

Our studio

Virginia Tech's television and radio studios can broadcast live HD audio and video to networks, news outlets, and affiliates interviewing Virginia Tech faculty and staff. The university does not charge for use of its studios. Video is transmitted by LTN Global Communications, Skype, or file sharing (Dropbox, Google Drive, We-Transfer, etc.). Radio interviews can be transmitted by ISDN, Comrex, or file sharing.