Tourism set for $1b loss as Australia bans travellers from China

All travellers from China and foreign travellers who have left or passed through mainland China will be barred from entering Australia for 14 days from the time they depart or transited through China.

Exceptions to the new measures include Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, dependents, legal guardians and spouses. It also extends to airline staff who have used personal protective gear.

These individuals arriving out of mainland China are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave the country.

The new measures were announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday in an effort to contain the highly contagious coronavirus that has spread from Wuhan in China.

To date 12 people have been confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus in Australia.

Morrison also said there will “be advanced screening and reception arrangements put into place at the major airports to facilitate identifying and providing this information and ensuring the appropriate precautions are being put in place”.

Australians are also being told not to travel to mainland China, where the official number of infected people has risen to 11,791.

“I want to assure Australians that we are doing everything that we can and through these actions to protect Australia for what is an escalating threat and a constantly changing situation,” Morrison said.

Qantas and Air New Zealand also announced they will suspend their direct flights to China from February 9.

The announcement comes as the tourism sector braces for one of the worst starts to any year, with an estimated $1 billion loss in revenue for every month the Chinese travel ban remains in place.

The ban on travel from China has already seen mass cancellations of bookings ahead of the Lunar New Year, which is one the busiest times of the year for businesses that target the Chinese market.

Speaking to The Age, Restaurant & Catering Association chief executive Wes Lambert said he hopes the government would consider financial aid to help affected businesses.

“We will certainly be lobbying the government on behalf of our members to help those businesses stay open,” he said.

Tourism Accommodation Australia chief executive Michael Johnson told The Age “we are in for a lengthy time of disruption”.

“The industry has got to brace itself for what is going to be a very difficult year,” he said.