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Chinatowns turn into ghost towns as tourism takes a hit

Chinatowns turn into ghost towns as tourism takes a hit
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San Francisco: From the US to Singapore, Chinatowns that are historic and picturesque Chinese settlements across the world are facing the brunt of...

San Francisco: From the US to Singapore, Chinatowns that are historic and picturesque Chinese settlements across the world are facing the brunt of coronavirus (COVID-19) fears owing to poor tourist footfall. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the largest and oldest Chinatown in San Francisco has seen a massive drop in tourism.

According to a report in NPR, there are no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus among San Francisco residents but the city's mayor has declared a local state of emergency. "The city's Chinatown is already feeling the financial effects of fears over the virus," the report said.

Food markets and restaurants in Chinatown are hit the most who are witnessing empty tables throughout the day. Facebook has come forward, helping Chinatown here with a $20,000 grant and $5,000 in Facebook ad credits to encourage people to shop local.

"Sadly, there has been a lot of xenophobia as a result of what's happening," San Francisco Mayor London Breed was quoted as saying in a kron4.com report. To allay fears, US House speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the Chinatown last week.

"I'm here today, particularly, to say thank you to the community for the sense of family values and sense of community that they provide. "But also to say to everyone: we should come to Chinatown. Precautions have been taken by our city. We know that there is concern surrounding tourism, traveling all throughout the world, but we think it's very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come," Pelosi said on her official website.

"It's lovely here. The food is delicious, the shops are prospering, the parade was great. Walking tours continue. Please come and visit and enjoy Chinatown," she added. At the East Cost, restaurateurs in New York's Chinatown say their businesses are suffering because of the panic around the deadly virus.

"Being a business owner in Chinatown, I just see that the streets are empty. It's a ghost town in Chinatown right now. There's just nobody around," Wilson Tang, whose historic Nom Wah Tea Parlor turns 100 this year, was quoted as saying in a Grub Street report.

Restaurants in Edmonton's Chinatown (capital of Canada's Alberta province) are seeing a drop in business that is being attributed, in part, to the coronavirus.

Wen Wang, executive director of the Chinatown and Area Business Association, said some businesses have reported a 30 to 50 per cent decline compared to the same time last year, reports globalnews.ca. In Singapore's Chinatown, businesses have taken a painful hit, with several shop owners saying sales are down by half, reports The Strait Times.

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