The coronavirus is expected to hit Australian sectors exposed to the Chinese market, including tourism, education and retail, the hardest.
Investment bank UBS on Friday published a report exploring the implications of the virus – which has killed 213 people – that estimated a two-month halt on China package tours could cost Australia at least $1 billion in services exports.
In 2003, the report outlined, short-term arrivals from China constituted just seven per cent of Australia’s total inbound tourism – but this number has since ballooned to roughly 30 per cent.
Adding to the potential pain, UBS pointed out that February and March were two of the busiest months for Chinese travellers to Australia, making up about one quarter of annual arrivals.
The UBS report also said major shopping centre operators like Vicinity Centres and Scentre Group could suffer from lower numbers of Chinese “tourist shoppers”.
“Reduced Chinese tourism will impact foot traffic and disproportionately impact sales in flagship assets, CBD assets and certain DFO (outlet) centres,” it said.
The coronavirus impact is not likely to continue and sales are likely to pick up again, UBS said.
But if there are bankruptcies of shops during the slow time then it will impact retail occupancy rates.