As the coronavirus outbreak grows wider, its threat to the international meetings industry has come into sharp focus with the Chinese government moving, 27 January, to ban all group tours from travelling outside the country.
This will surely affect many of the large outbound incentive groups that provide big business, especially in other Asian countries.
Several events across Asia were cancelled last week due to the disease.
The Chinese government’s latest moves include extending the Lunar New Year holiday by two days to 2 February in an attempt to keep internal and external travelling to a minimum.
Hong Kong, which has six case of the virus reported to date, has declared an emergency and cancelled many celebratory events.
With Wuhan in lockdown, Shanghai has moved to stop long-distance bus services. Some 50 million Chinese now have restrictions on their movements.
Taiwan has banned entry to many travellers from China, with exceptions for certain business travellers.
The first case of the virus has been reported in Europe, where two people were taken ill in Paris. The US also had five confirmed cases as of 27 January, and Japan four.
What should business travellers and delegates be doing if travelling to China? In a rapidly-changing situation, corporate travellers are advised to request their employers provide them with appropriate travel risk intelligence. Travellers to infected areas are advised to wear a face mask in public areas and to seek immediate medical attention if displaying any symptoms like fever, diarrhoea, shortness of breath and coughing.
US carrier Delta Airlines has issued a travel waiver that allows passengers traveling to, from or through Beijing and Shanghai between until 31 January to change their itinerary once without having to pay a fee. And in Shanghai Disneyland closed on 25 January and has offered refunds for hotel room bookings there.
Over in Macau, meanwhile, authorities are requiring casinos to screen guests for high temperatures and make their staff wear respirator masks.