A government spokesperson has warned “there is no excuse for targeting or discriminating against Chinese communities or visitors” following reports of hospitality businesses segregating Asian guests after the coronavirus outbreak.
The caution was issued after senior industry figures expressed concern about the treatment of Asian visitors.
Speaking at the UKinbound Convention in Bristol, director of European travel association Etoa, Patrick Richards, said: “There is a nervousness across the whole supply chain and a nervousness about taking any Asian customers.”
He added: “We’ve heard of a group of Japanese visitors in York who were put on a separate floor of a hotel [from other guests].
“There is an educational job to do so we don’t alienate Asian customers for years to come.”
A government spokesperson said officials are working with communities and police around the country to ensure people of all backgrounds have access to the latest information. They added: “There is no excuse for targeting or discriminating against Chinese communities or visitors to the UK or people of any other background.”
There is widespread concern that the coronavirus outbreak could hit the profits of hospitality businesses in the UK.
UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said: “We have members struggling and if this goes on businesses will go under. They will go out of business.”
Chinese visitor numbers are expected to have reached 483,000 in 2019 with VisitBritain reporting that tourists from the country are some of the highest spenders parting with an average of £2,059 per trip, more than three times the all-market average.
VisitBritain director, Patricia Yates, had earlier said: “China is one of the UK’s top 10 most valuable inbound visitor markets and has been showing strong growth. Forward flight bookings from China to the UK had been showing double-digit growth at 27% for arrivals during the coming six months.”
The Department of Health has classed coronavirus as a “serious and imminent threat”, however the risk level to the UK remains classed as “moderate”.
Chief medical officer professor Chris Whitty today announced that four further patients in England had tested positive, bringing the total number to eight.
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