Following COVID-19 developments, industry’s response
GLOBAL REPORT—This timeline tracks major events surrounding the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its intersection with the global hotel industry.
In January 2020, the World Health Organization identified a novel coronavirus outbreak that originated in the central China city of Wuhan. By the end of January, cases were reported outside Mainland China and efforts were underway to curtail travel to and from areas reporting cases of the virus.
This timeline picks up from 30 January, when the WHO declared the virus a global health emergency:
World Health Organization declares outbreak a global health emergency
Signaling an impact beyond the initial outbreak in China, the World Health Organization declares a global health emergency around the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
US imposes first travel restrictions; early analysis shows hit from Chinese tourists to US
The Trump Administration announces a temporary travel restriction barring U.S. entry by foreign nationals who had traveled to China in recent weeks.
Early analysis by Tourism Economics calls for a potential 25% drop in Chinese visitors to the U.S. in 2020, leading to a loss of 4 million roomnights and $5.8 billion in visitor spending.
Preliminary hotel data shows steep China declines
Preliminary data and analysis from STR shows a hotel occupancy decline of 75% in Mainland China from 14-26 January 2020. Performance during the Chinese New Year holiday period was significantly worsened by the outbreak of COVID-19.
“Many hotels in Beijing have closed. Beijing is the first destination people go to from Wuhan,” Christine Liu, STR regional manager for North Asia, tells Hotel News Now. “This is likely to be far worse than 17 years ago, when the SARS virus occurred, as people travel more than they did then and because it was the lunar period.”
Asia hotel closures spread
Hotel companies and governments institute property closures to help curb the spread of the virus outside of the initial outbreak areas. The Macau government suspends gaming operations on 4 February; and by 7 February, hotel companies are closing properties. Along with other companies with hotels in the region, MGM China Holdings Limited closes all Macau properties by 12 February, GGRAsia.com reported.
Reporting 2019 year-end and Q4 earnings, hotel companies share updates on their China and Asia operations, including initial closures and their early effects on outlook. On 10 February, Hilton reports 150 hotels, including 33,000 rooms have closed. On 13 February, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts reports 1,000 hotel closures in Mainland China. On 17 February, InterContinental Hotels Group reports 160 of its hotels in Greater China are partially to fully closed; and on 26 February, Marriott International reports 90 of the company’s hotels in Greater China are closed.
Early hotel data emerges showing virus impact
As the travel industry begins to feel the impact of restrictions and cancellations, STR analysts examine data to determine the early effects of the coronavirus outbreak on markets around the globe, including the Asia/Pacific region, Bali, Australia and New Zealand, Singapore, Dubai and Europe.
Hyatt withdraws guidance
Hyatt Hotels Corporation announces the withdrawal of its previously announced 2020 outlook “due to the impact on travel demand outside of Greater China, in part as a result of new corporate travel restrictions in North America and Europe, as well as near-term cancellations outside of Greater China, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
US travel associations send safety message
In a joint news conference, five U.S. travel and commercial organizations send the message that travel is safe, and canceling trips and meetings is not necessary.
Pebblebrook withdraws guidance; HSI falls in February
Pebblebrook Hotel Trust withdraws its 2020 full-year and Q1 outlooks citing coronavirus effects. Data also is released showing the Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index fell 11.7% in February.
Hilton, Park withdraw 2020 guidance
Hilton and Park Hotels & Resorts are the latest public lodging companies to withdraw Q1 and full-year 2020 outlooks, citing uncertainty and the rapidly changing situation around the coronavirus epidemic.
Pandemic declared, travel advisories expand
On a pivotal day in the unfolding developments around the spread of the virus, the World Health Organization designates COVID-19 a pandemic. At this point, the WHO cites 118,000 cases, more than 4,000 deaths and presence of the virus on all continents except Antarctica.
President Trump outlines plans to stop most Europeans from traveling to the U.S. for 30 days, and the U.S. Department of State issues a Global Level 3 health advisory urging U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel abroad” due to the virus.
AHLA calls for industry stimulus
American Hotel & Lodging Association executives brief the industry on meetings with U.S. government officials, in which they requested “immediate steps to help small business owners and their employees by ensuring access to capital, liquidity and increased credit markets,” AHLA EVP of government affairs Brian Crawford says. “We want our small business owners to be able to continue to employ their employees during this difficult patch.”
Markets take a fall
U.S. stocks fall 7% after the market opens, following similar declines in European and Asia-Pacific markets. U.S. stocks enter bear market territory, with travel companies hit particularly hard.
CorePoint withholds 2020 guidance
Citing the business impact from coronavirus and other economic concerns, executives with CorePoint Lodging withhold 2020 guidance on a call to report fourth-quarter and full-year 2019 earnings with analysts.
“As we’ve all seen, over the last few weeks, there’s been a sudden and rapid deterioration in the macro lodging environment due to the actual and anticipated impact of the COVID-19 environment,” CorePoint President and CEO Keith Cline says.
Casino companies, Disney announce closures; CDC calls for more group limitations
Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts both announce they will close all Las Vegas properties starting Tuesday, 17 March. Disney, which first announced staggered closures of all its parks worldwide on 12 March, announces the closure of all Walt Disney World resort hotels and Vero Beach Resort on Friday, 20 March.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issues guidance calling for cancellation or postponement of in-person events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, which spurs several state governments to call for restaurants and bars to close.
Fed rate cut prompts more stock drops; Park, Scandic give updates
Stocks fall worldwide following an announcement from the U.S. Federal Reserve that the central bank cut interest rates close to zero.
On the real estate investment trust front, Park Hotels & Resorts announces it has taken “various actions, independently and in coordination with its hotel management companies, to mitigate the effect on its business” from the COVID-19 virus.
Stockholm-based Scandic Hotels Group’s Board of Directors announces a plan to cancel its 2019 dividend to shareholders.
UK, Canada announce more restrictions
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson advises citizens to avoid gatherings and all non-essential travel. At the same time, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces Canada will close its borders to all non-citizens/non-permanent residents, with the exception of U.S. citizens.
Marriott begins furlough of employees as property closures ramp up globally
A spokeswoman for Marriott International tells The Wall Street Journal that the company expects furloughs at its properties around the globe to reach into the tens of thousands as hotels continue to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company said it expects to “bring back as many of the furloughed employees as possible when the novel coronavirus is contained and business returns,” The Journal reports.