Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Tourism, Health, Medicine, Economics, China, Politics, Hong Kong, Disease

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/15

Effect of SARS in Asia (2002)
Almost half a century after Mao Zedong bade goodbye to the “God of Plagues”, the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS started an alarming outbreak in China in November 2002 that pressed for the declaration of the disease as a world epidemic. The pestilence started in the People’s Republic of China, originating from the SARS coronavirus, though it was a relatively a new disease. People got afflicted with the disease through close contact between individuals, with the incubation period of the SARS virus ranging from two to seven days. The alarming increase in the number of SARS cases made it became a public issue, not only in terms of public health and safety, but also in terms of the economic and tourism industry in Asia.

China being the epicenter of the outbreak, suffered the immediate consequences of the disease in the tourism, economic and political aspect. The plague has caused uncertainties on the China’s economy as the period of information sharing about the outbreak has instigated alarm and rumor mongering through- out the country, damaging the reputation that the government is trying to establish in the international arena. Internationally, the China has been experiencing an economic growth and expansion in the global arena, being able to formally cross the threshold into the World Trade Organization (Xu). It suffered a sudden economic decline due to the fear of local and foreign investors about the disease as there was an alarming increase in the number of reported cases despite the speedy action of the health authorities to contain the plague immediately. There was a collapse of the exportation of products, and the decline in the domestic and foreign tourism as well. The fear among travelers and tourist alike of being afflicted of the infection resulted to the cancelation of travel plans, eating out and even shopping. It in turn affected the economic standing of business offering services that are dependent on the spending of consumers.
The hardest hit part of China was that of Beijing and Guangzhou, the region that most benefited from the industrialization and economic success of the country. The statistics revealed that there were about 1,440 tour groups that were postponed, while the hotel industry has fallen to about 30 percent, a loss to the prospering hotel business in the region. In Guangdong Province, where the tourism industry contributed to a large portion of its annual income saw a staggering sharp decline of 6.5 billion Yuan. This is due to the decline of the arrival of tourist to about 40 percent according to the Provincial Statistics Bureau of Guangdong. The annual trade fair held every April of the year in Guangzhou reported that only 16,400 people attended; tourism attendance way too low matched to that of last year’s 135,000 people (Xu).


Like most country in Asia, Singapore experienced the negative effect of the SARS outbreak especially in its tourism industry. In 2003, Singapore Airlines required it’s more than six thousand crew to take unpaid vacations, owing to the decline on the number of travellers. In one instance, about forty percent of flights headed to Hongkong were lost due to the epidemic.
As the effect of the outbreak, strict prevention and control measures were taken by Singapore authorities to immediately put a stop on the spread of the disease. The MOH SARS Task Force
was formed and heads of medical institutions participated where they discussed the possible ways to contain the spread of the plague. “The Ministerial Committee on SARS was established on the 7th day of April 2003 to provide a political guidance and quick strategic decisions to minimize the socio-economic impact of SARS” (Kee-Tai Goh et al)
There was also the effect of the SARS outbreak in the psychological aspect of the population. The participants in the study were doctors and nurses and the survey included the questionnaires and self-report measures. They were asked to relay their priorities after knowing of the SARS and relay how they coped with the epidemic. A study on health care workers in a medium size hospital in Singapore revealed that most of them were emotionally affected and distressed during the prevalence of the outbreak (Chan & Huak).


The exports and tourism of Hong Kong were also greatly affected by the epidemic. Economists expressed fear that the two of the economic pillars of Hong Kong, that is the exports and tourism will suffer the most if the spread of the disease is not controlled in the shortest time. In 2003, the government of Hong Kong received a decree from the Swiss government that there will be a cessation on the hiring of people who just visited the country. As a result, there were thousands of merchants from Hong Kong that were requested by the Swiss authorities to go back to Hong Kong. The announcement of the World Health Organization on the taking precautions in travelling to Hong Kong affected the Tourism industry of this country. Sunny Wong, a director of Hong Kong travel agency said “Few bookings for the Easter holidays to Thailand have been canceled so farSome even want to get out of Hong Kong as soon as possible because of the SARS crisis” (Fung)

Overall Impact in Asia

The outbreak of SARS came to be a shock in many Asian Countries. In general, the fear of SARS resulted to a great drop in the service industry, especially on the tourism and retailing. The knowledge on the speedy transfer of the contagion is enough to make people shun socializing in known infected places. This was the case that significantly affected China and Hong Kong, due to the “larger service related activities and higher population densities” (Lee & McKibbin). Another effect of the SARS epidemic is that it lessens the confidence in the future of affected economies (Lee & McKibbin). For instance, China which became the focus of foreign investments is inevitably affected because the origination and spread of SARS in its region concerns the quality of its institution and growth potential. The effect of diseases on investor relations cannot yet be determined but it is a certainty that the loss of external investor’s confidence in the ability of a government to control epidemics can negatively impact a country’s economic progress. Another effect of SARS is the increases government expenditures in curing and controlling the spread of the outbreak.


The SARS outbreak has negatively affected many countries in Asia. China, where it originated suffered from the decline of its tourism, export and retailing industries especially in Beijing and Guangzhou as the center of China’s industry. The economy is not the only aspect affected by the spread of the outbreak, as there are many people, especially those who worked in medical institutions who were psychologically affected by the disease. The epidemic occurred many years ago but the fear of its re-occurrence is still being feared. It was a relief that Asian governments and authorities worked on measures to immediately stop the outbreak.


Chan, A., Huak, C., Psyhological Impact of the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Outbreak on Health Care Workders in a Medium Size Regional General Hospital in Singapore. Retrieved from http;//ww.occmd.oxfordjournals.org
Fung, A. SARS Threatening to Cripple Hong Kong. Retrieved fromhttp://www.atimes.com
Goh, K., Cutter, J., Heng, B., Ma, S., Koh, B., Kwok, C., Toh, C., Chew, S., Epidemiology and Control of SARS in Singapore.
Lee, J., McKibbin, W. Estimating the Global Economic Costs of SARS. Retrieved from http;//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Xu, X. The impacts of SARS in China. Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations.

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