Impact of the Coronavirus Ripples Across Asia: ‘It Has Been Quiet, Like a Cemetery’

Impact of the Coronavirus Ripples Across Asia: ‘It Has Been Quiet, Like a Cemetery’


Jewel, a nature-themed complex at the Changi Airport, reflected the malaise. At the Rain Vortex indoor waterfall, usually crowded with people jostling to take selfies, there was plenty of space to take a photo alone. Apple Store employees in their dark blue T-shirts outnumbered shoppers two to one.

Jeanne Liu, the owner of Rich & Good Cake Shop, which has an outpost at Jewel, said that business was down by half. “The general mood in the country is depressed, and people aren’t going to places they perceive as crowded,” she said.

Robert and Jane Murray, 73 and 70, who live in Australia, were sitting in a mostly empty Terminal 3, waiting for their flight to Jaipur, India, to attend a wedding after spending three days in Singapore.

“We booked the trip before all the hype, and it made us want to cancel,” Mr. Murray said. “But we contacted our doctor, who said ‘It’s just like the flu,’ so we just take precautions, wash hands and we’re fine.”

In Cambodia’s usual tourist hot spot, Siem Reap, the airport was hauntingly empty and check-in and security lines were minimal.

Arne Lugeon, 56, the French-born owner and general manager of the Sala Lodges, said that as of mid-Feburary, its 11 traditional wooden houses had not had a new booking in three weeks, even though February is high season for tourism. “I can only hope this virus is contained and then ends soon,” he said.

Fabien Martial, 46, co-owner of the 35-room Viroth’s Hotel, said: “During the Chinese New Year, 70 percent of our clients are from China, but this year they all canceled. The hotel was nearly completely empty for a few days.”



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