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24 Jan 2020

Coronavirus outbreak forces closure of major Chinese attractions including Disneyland
BY Andy Knaggs

Shanghai Disney is just one of the attractions to close its doors

Shanghai Disney is just one of the attractions to close its doors

Some of China's most popular attractions are being forced to close as the country tries to stop the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak, which has so far killed 26 people.

Beijing's Palace Museum – also known as the Forbidden City – and the Shanghai Disney Resort are the highest-profile sites that have announced they will close. The attractions are 1,150km and 830km respectively away from Wuhan, where the flu-like virus originated. No dates have yet been put forward for the attractions to reopen.

The Shanghai Disney Resort said on its website that it's closing "in response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety of our guests and cast". It added: "We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and be in close contact with the local government, and we will announce the reopening date upon confirmation."

Traditional temple fairs in Beijing, an international carnival and a football tournament in Hong Kong, and public Lunar New Year celebrations in Macau have also been reportedly cancelled as concern about the spread of the virus increases.

Indeed, the situation comes at the worst possible time for Chinese authorities, with Lunar New Year celebrations about to get in full swing across the country from today.

So far in China, more than 800 people have been infected with this strain of Coronavirus – officially called 2019-nCoV) – and transport bans have so far been imposed on at least 10 Chinese cities in the area around Wuhan, affecting 33 million people.

The virus is also beginning to spread internationally, with confirmed cases of the virus being announced in Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the US, Vietnam, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

Tourism in China makes a total contribution of 12.9 per cent to the nation's economy, according to 2018 data from Statista.

In its last reported results last November, Shanghai Disney Resort said that its attendance numbers were down, but higher ticket prices had resulted in higher operating income. Published annual reports for the Beijing Palace Museum reach no more recent than 2013 on the attraction's website, but Chinese media reports from December 2018 suggest that visitor numbers continue to grow, surpassing 17 million people annually for the first time in 2018.



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