Coronavirus fears are hitting Manhattan’s Chinatown hard. Some restaurants are reporting a drop of 50 to 70% in business over the past two weeks.
Fears of the virus and the halt in tourism from China is to blame.
Local leaders are concerned. They have launched a campaign called, “Show Some Love Here” to encourage people to return.
Wellington Chen, the Executive Director of Chinatown Partnership, says,”This has got to stop. This is getting out of hand. So far in New York City, no one has tested positive.”
The Vietnamese restaurant Bo Ky is empty at lunchtime. According to its general manager, Chi Vy Ngo, business has dropped 60 percent over ten days.
“A lot things we couldn’t sell, we throw out,” he says. “We let the employees take it home and eat it.”
No one has been laid off yet, but if the weakness continues, that may change.
Tour operators and hotels catering to Chinese tourists are also facing hardship. Flights to and from China have been suspended. China has banned organized tours.
Some New York hotels have reported losses exceeding $100,000.
Sean Hennessy of New York University’s hospitality and tourism program says the impact could last a while.
“The outlook is that there’ll be one or two quarters of operating weakness for the tour and travel companies,” he says,”with the expectation that we’ll rebound in the latter half of the year into 2021.”
In the meantime, Chinatown businesses are open for business and hoping customers will come back.