Irish tourism is facing more uncertainty after the US issued warnings about travel to parts of Italy and the French authorities closed the Louvre Museum in Paris over concerns for its staff catching the coronavirus from the hundreds of people streaming through its doors.
Tourism chiefs here have been on high alert ever since the first of two victims of Covoid-19 were confirmed last week.
The Irish outbreaks received widespread coverage in the media around the world.
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, is preparing to attend a Department of Health meeting later on Monday.
He said that the travel bans announced over the weekend by the US for its citizens to parts of Italy most affected by the outbreak and the closure of the Louvre will cause new concerns fro the prospects for Irish tourism in the coming season.
"It is very concerning and alarming for ever sector but travel and tourism is likely to be most affected," Mr O'Mara Walsh said.
Companies as diverse as Diageo -- which makes Guinness, Baileys, and Smirnoff; Danone, the foods giant that also makes baby formula in Ireland; and Apple have warned in the last two weeks about financial hits from the coronavirus due to lower Asian sales or the huge disruption to their supply chains that thread across China.
Amid last week's huge stock market sell-off, the shares of travel giants and airlines have been particularly badly hit. That reflected fears that American visitors will cancel travel plans to Europe should the outbreak fail to contained in the coming months.
Bloomberg reported that the US State Department upgraded its advisory for the Italian regions that include Milan and Venice to “do not travel”, due to “the level of community transmission of the virus and imposition of local quarantine procedures”.
Those regions include the country’s finance hub, Milan, and Venice.
The rest of Italy is still ranked “reconsider travel”, by the US authorities. Italy has reported more than 1,100 confirmed cases of the infection.
The US also issued a Level 4 “do-not-travel” warning for the Daegu region of southeastern South Korea.
Meanwhile, Japan raised its travel advisory for Daegu city and Cheongdo county in the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do to level 3, or to a "do-not-travel" level.
Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also raised the alert for Italy’s Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna regions to "level 2" from "level 1".
France’s Louvre Museum remained shut on Sunday amid concern about the coronavirus. The shutdown followed a government decision on Saturday to ban indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
There was better news for the PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot cars, which has been told by Chinese authorities that the company will be able to restart industrial activities in the Hubei province from March 11, chief executive Carlos Tavares said on Sunday.