Coronavirus shuts China hotels, stocks take a hit

Hotel occupancy down in China, other Southeast Asia countries

U.S. hotel stocks took a hit Thursday as some announced hotel closures and many announced looser cancellation policies in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

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Wyndham Hotels and Resorts has closed about 70 percent of its hotels in China, Skift reported. And Hilton Worldwide has closed about 150 of its hotels in China, USA Today reported. Executives from both hotel companies told investors this week that they’d seen declines in occupancy related to the outbreak and that they expected to lose out on millions in earnings as a result.

In this Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, photo, workers in protective suits sit outside a hotel being used for people held in medical isolation in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. (Chinatopix via AP)

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More than 45,000 people worldwide have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to health officials. At least 1,113 people have died as a result of the virus.

The hotel industry is also feeling the effects of the outbreak beyond China, and its full impact remains to be seen. Wyndham has already seen occupancy declines elsewhere in Southeast Asia, especially in Korea, Singapore and Thailand, Skift reported.

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In this Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, photo, a doctor in a protective suit visits a patient in a hotel being used for people held in medical isolation in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. (Chinatopix via AP)

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More than 99 percent of the confirmed coronavirus cases are in China, according to health officials. The country has quarantined 50 million people in more than a dozen cities. Industry forecasting firm Travel Economics has predicted a 28 percent drop in visits from China to the U.S. this year, based on the impact of the SARS outbreak in 2003.

Hilton, Wyndham, Marriott International and Hyatt Hotels each saw their stock prices drop slightly Thursday.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
HLTHILTON WORLDWIDE HOLDINGS INC.112.67+0.74+0.66%
WHWYNDHAM HOTELS RESORTS INC59.96+1.47+2.51%
MARMARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL INC.147.63+2.69+1.86%
HHYATT HOTELS89.94+1.26+1.42%

The U.S. State Department has advised Americans against traveling to China, and numerous airlines have canceled flights to and from China as travelers have called off their trips.

And while hotel owners are anticipating a financial hit, many are offering guests more generous cancellation or change policies in China. At least 11 hotel companies have updated their policies for properties in the region, Business Travel News reported. Many of the hotels have waived fees to cancel or change plans and pulled or extended deadlines to make those changes.

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