Elephant parks unvisited, curios at markets unsold as tuk-tuks sit idle: Southeast Asia is facing billions of dollars in losses from a collapse in Chinese tourism since the outbreak of a deadly new coronavirus. From Luang Prabang in northern Laos to Pattaya in Thailand, Hoi An in Vietnam and the Cambodian casino town of Sihanoukville, takings have plummeted as Chinese travellers find themselves subject to a host of restrictions at home and abroad. “We haven’t had any Chinese for 10 days since they closed the road from Yunnan,” says Ong Tau, 47, from behind her stall of fruit shakes in the temple-studded Laotian town of Luang Prabang. “Business is down 20-30 percent… it will get worse.” Tour guides, mall workers and restaurant staff are all feeling the burn as Chinese — the world’s biggest travellers — stay at home in the middle of a global health crisis. “My friend has lost four or five big tour groups… they would have paid for his low season,” said Tee, a guide in Luang Prabang, giving only one name in the tightly-controlled country, a mass of tuk-tuks standing idle behind him. But in one of Southeast Asia’s least well-resourced countries, there may be one… Read full this story
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