June 09, 2015 12:36
A protracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome crisis is expected to have the same economic impact on Korea as the SARS outbreak on Hong Kong in 2003.
As the SARS epidemic dragged on for nine months, food and accommodation businesses suffered a 35.1 percent decline in revenues as tourists stayed away.
Hong Kong's manufacturing sector suffered a 14-percent drop in revenues, while wholesale and retail sales shrank 10.4 percent, transportation 9.9 percent and construction 6.7 percent.
The LG Economic Research Institute in a report Monday warned the economic impact of a prolonged MERS crisis "could spread to the entire service sector here."
If the MERS infection spreads further, not only would Koreans stay home and keep their wallets shut, foreigners would also shun the country. Last year, visitors from China accounted for more than 50 percent of all tourists here.
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