Washington, D.C., officials have been warned fears about the coronavirus could cost the city tens of millions of dollars in lost taxes, and there are concerns it could affect one of the area’s biggest annual events: the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Tourism is an $8 billion business for D.C., generating 80,000 jobs.
Elliott Ferguson of Destination DC said there hasn’t been a big impact from concerns about coronavirus so far.
“We’re monitoring, paying attention to it,” he said. “We’re seeing some fall off, of course, where people can’t physically leave like, of course China, and then in some cases in Asia there have been cancellations for those that are attending conventions.”
That could change if the virus continues to spread in the U.S.
D.C.’s chief financial officer warns the coronavirus could cost $52 million in tax revenue this year if it becomes a major health emergency in D.C.
The coronavirus threat has already had a major impact on one conference planned for D.C. The International Association of Dental Research which is made of 80% international attendees is seeing an average of 25 cancellations per day and have already refunded $100,000 in registration fees.
“I think from an international perspective, we’ve seen groups that are looking and postponing their travel, not necessarily canceling their travel but waiting to see exactly what happens,” Ferguson said.
Officials at the Washington Convention Center said they are taking extra precautions there with cleaning and changing filters.
Another concern is the impact on the Cherry Blossom Festival, which attracts millions to D.C. each year.
“Ninety-two percent of participants are domestic participants, so we don’t expect any impact to the Cherry Blossom Festival,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
Nationally, the impact on tourism is estimated to cost businesses $10.3 billion, with California, New York and Nevada feeling the biggest impact.