SAN GABRIEL (CBSLA) — The festively-decorated streets of San Gabriel are abnormally quiet with Lunar New Year approaching due to fears about the coronavirus outbreak.
With the death toll from the coronavirus continuing to climb beyond 600, tourism dollars that usually pour in from more than 1 billion Chinese is drying up.
Los Angeles’s tourism and convention board expects to see a drop of 325,000 Chinese visitors to the City of Angels this year, translating into a $921 million hit to the local economy.
In San Gabriel, Pulcian’s Deli owner Michael Pulciano says he is accustomed to seeing busloads of Chinese tourists descend on the area at this time of year. But this year, he ordered 40 percent less food because of the expected drop in visitors.
“When I run out, I’ll be happy,” he said.
Chinese tourists are considered the No. 1 visitors to Los Angeles.
“Those tourist attractions in California that are particularly attractive to Chinese tourists are going to be impacted, but on the other hand, American tourists are not going to Asia and they may be coming to California,” said Jerry Nickelsburg of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. “Those forces could balance each other out.”
Several tourist attractions across the globe have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, including several overseas Disney amusement parks and all of Macau – where casinos are popular with Chinese tourists. Tourism all over Asian has ground to a halt, and 30 airlines have suspended flights to and from China. Several cruise ships have also been quarantined due to coronavirus exposure.