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Coronavirus leaves top tourist sites eerily deserted

March 04, 2020 08:15 IST
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More than 86,000 people worldwide have been infected with the novel coronavirus and the global death toll is nearing 3,000.

To try to prevent the spread of the virus, local governments have been closing tourist attractions that normally draw large crowds. World-famous destinations such as the Great Wall of China and the Venetian canals resemble ghost towns.


As new coronavirus cases are confirmed daily, more closures and cancellations are expected. For the most up-to-date information on the status of an attraction or event, check the institution's or event's main web page.


IMAGE: A Chinese man wears a protective mask as he stands near the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The Forbidden City is normally crowded with tourists during the Lunar New Year holiday, but the site was closed to prevent gatherings of large crowds that might help the novel coronavirus to spread.


IMAGE: People stand in front of the closed tickets office to the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall, where a notice is seen saying that the place is closed to visitors for the safety concern following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, near Beijing, China. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

The high-traffic section of the Great Wall was shut down in late January to curb the spread of the virus. The Juyongguan section of the Great Wall has been closed, and the wall's temple fair was cancelled.


IMAGE: Men walk past a banner hung on the ticket office of the Beijing Zoo that is closed following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, in Beijing, China. The Chinese characters on the banner read, "Stay focused and united, have faith and confidence, with scientific prevention and control, we can beat the epidemic". Photograph: Tingshu Wang/Reuters

The century-old zoo has been closed to the public since January 24, the beginning of the Spring Festival holiday, after health authorities advised the public to stay indoors amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. However, the zoo has been updating the daily lives of its animals on Chinese social media platforms, uploading articles, videos and loads of pictures of the animals' training and feeding.


IMAGE: The Disney Resort in Shanghai. Photograph: Visual China/Getty Images

Shanghai Disney closed on January 24, it did not offer any information on its plans to reopen. With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases -- and deaths -- higher in China than anywhere else, it's unclear when Shanghai Disney will resume operations. The resort's website states the theme park is in close contact with health officials and the local government and will announce the reopening date once they've been advised it's safe to do so.


IMAGE: A bicycle parked in Vittorio Veneto square is seen in Turin usually full of tourists as a coronavirus outbreak continues to grow in Italy. Photograph: Massimo Pinca/Reuters

Several museums in Milan, Venice and other areas in northern Italy were closed temporarily and will reopen with new safety measures.

Milan's Duomo and La Scala opera house closed to visitors on February 25. Schools, universities, theatres, and cinemas have also been shut in the city.

IMAGE: Residents and tourists walk around the sparsely populated Duomo square due to the fear of most residents to leave their houses due to the coronavirus in Milan, Italy. Photograph: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

The city is struggling with a tourism decline as more than 2,000 cases of coronavirus are confirmed across Italy. According to Italy's tourism federation, Assoturismo, 90 per cent of hotel and package holiday bookings in Rome this month have been cancelled.

IMAGE: A woman wearing a face mask checks her phone outside the Teatro alla Scala, closed by authorities due to a coronavirus outbreak, in Milan, Italy. Photograph: Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters

It isn't just Rome that is struggling - Sicily has also seen a cancellation rate of 80 per cent.

IMAGE: Very few people are seen in the area surrounding the Colosseum, which would usually be full of tourists, in Rome, Italy. Italy's tourism industry has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Venice, Florence and Turin, usually popular with tourists even at this time of year, are empty with just a few families wandering around.

Venice has already struggled following the high levels of flooding last year, which saw bookings drop by 40 per cent in December - and is now facing more problems due to coronavirus.


IMAGE: A tourist wearing a mask walks away from the Louvre as the staff closed the museum during a staff meeting about the coronavirus outbreak, in Paris, France. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

France has 100 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, prompting the government to order the canceling of any public gatherings of more than 5,000 people. The Louvre Museum in Paris closed Sunday because of the coronavirus.


IMAGE: People in traditional Korean clothes "Hanbok" dresses wear face masks as a precaution to protect them against the novel coronavirus at Gyeongbokgung Royal Palace in Seoul, South Korea. Photograph: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

One of South Korea's most popular tourist attractions, Gyeongbokgung Palace, has suspended all official guided tours "until further notice," according to the palace's website. Self-guided tours, however, are permitted.


IMAGE: People have their photograph taken beneath Hakone Jinjya Heiwa-no-Torii at Lake Ashi in Hakone, Japan. The hot springs resort town of Hakone, just 90 minutes from Tokyo and a longtime favourite destination for Chinese tourists, has seen visitor numbers plummet in recent weeks amid concerns and travel restrictions caused by coronavirus. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

In Japan, where the outbreak has escalated in recent weeks, both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are closed and set to reopen March 16, and Universal Studios has announced it too will close its doors through March 15.

Several museums in Japan have temporarily shuttered amid the virus outbreak. The Mori Art Museum, National Museum of Modern Art and the Kyoto National Museum are among the closures.

Several major cherry blossom festivals have also been canceled, including Tokyo's Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Festival.



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