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Wine Spectator: Coronavirus Continues To Challenge Dining And Travel Industries

March 11, 2020

As of yesterday, there have been more than 117,000 reported cases of COVID-19 around the globe, including 8,042 in Italy, 1,646 in Spain, 1,606 in France, and 804 in the United States. A reported 4,259 people have died from the virus, including 29 in the U.S.

Public health officials are scrambling to slow the spread of the disease, hoping to keep it from overwhelming hospitals and medical workers. National and local leaders are struggling with deciding how much to restrict their citizens to protect health without inflicting too much economic and social harm.

For the travel, dining, and wine industries, the economic pain is growing. Airlines have been cutting back on flights and suspending fees for passengers looking to change their travel plans, particularly to China, Italy, and South Korea, which have the highest number of cases. Major hotel chains, including Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt, have been suspending many fees for customers changing their reservations.

Restaurateurs in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York tell Wine Spectator that business has been down between 20% to 50%. Tilman Fertitta, CEO of the Houston-based restaurant corporation Landry’s Inc., told CNBC a few days ago that his 600 restaurants were losing about $1 million per day due to the coronavirus worries, particularly in units located in urban and popular tourist areas where conferences have been canceled or postponed. Wine Spectator has more.—Mitch Frank

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