Irish tourist chiefs on high alert as European events cancelled

Irish tourism chiefs are on high alert over the summer season as question marks were raised for the first time about major global sporting events, including the Olympics -- if the coronavirus threat is not contained.

Irish tourist chiefs on high alert as European events cancelled

Irish tourism chiefs are on high alert over the summer season as question marks were raised for the first time about major global sporting events, including the Olympics -- if the coronavirus threat is not contained.

The industry's fears were heightened after next week's Geneva motor show and other large events in Switzerland were cancelled.

The waves of selling rolling over global stock markets continued unabated for another day, signalling that investors had given up hope that the crisis will be resolved any time soon.

The sell-off this week is the largest since the 2008 financial crisis -- as indices Ftse-100 in London, the Dax in Frankfurt, and teh Cac-40 in Paris all fell by around 4%.

In the US, the Dow lost over 1,000 points. The price of crude oil slumped below €50 a barrel as a warning the world economy was in deep trouble.

"For the Ftse-100, February 2019 will join an inauspicious group of months that includes September and October 2008, the very peak of the financial crisis, and August 1998, when the Russian financial crisis was in full swing," said Chris Beauchamp at online broker IG.

Across the world, the shares of airline and transport companies, including IAG, which owns British Airways and Aer Lingus, slid again, by 8.5%.

In Ireland, Ryanair which fell only 0.5% but have lost 17% of their value in the past month, and Irish Ferries-owner ICG slid almost 5% to chalk up losses of 19% in the month.

Eoghan O'Mara Walsh, head of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, which represents the Irish tourism industry and the Government tourist boards north and south, said public health responses will have to be taken but urged any measures should be proportionate. Industry and government officials on a Department of Tourism committee were keeping the industry and Government abreast of the fallout.

He said the infection of a woman who travelled from Italy to the North had come at a bad time because February marks the start of the busy booking season for overseas visitors to book Irish holidays. .

If demand were to soften, the tourism and hospitality industry which employs 265,000 people would be vulnerable, and the hike in the hospitality Vat rate would again come under the spotlight, Mr O'Mara Walsh said.

Stock market traders involved in global markets are reeling. “It’s more about survival than return on capital today,” said John Moore, the head of trading at Berkeley Capital Wealth Management. told Bloomberg.

Global insurers face a hefty bill if the coronavirus forces the cancellation of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with estimates of the cost of insuring the sporting showpiece running into billions.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has ordered numerous sporting events cancelled as it tries to contain the epidemic but has pledged the Olympics, in which Japan has invested some €11bn, will go ahead as planned from July 24.

But fears persist that the Games may be postponed, moved or even called off, a decision International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound was reported this week as saying would need to be taken by May, Reuters reported.

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