If 2019 was the year that overtourism tormented Asia’s travel industry, the main threat this year looks like being the deadly new coronavirus , which has infected tens of thousands of people and killed more than 400 in mainland China. For tourist destinations across the region, that threat could prove existential, as too many visitors fast become too few. Travellers from mainland China made 180 million outbound trips last year, according to an estimate from the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, and everywhere from Bali to Bangkok have become reliant on the money they spend. On January 25, the first day of the Lunar New Year, the China Travel Service Association announced the suspension of all group tours and package trips, both within the country and beyond. Although this restriction does not extend to independent adventurers – who accounted for more than 40 per cent of the Chinese outbound market in 2017, according to data from Trip.com, the nation’s largest online travel agency – fear of spreading or catching the coronavirus, not to mention the ugly anti-Chinese sentiment it has inspired , is keeping many grounded. Besides, countries are being closed to Chinese arrivals across the globe. North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, India and Nepal have placed restrictions on those coming from China, as have a number of nations that don’t share a border with the Middle Kingdom, such as Singapore, Japan, the Philippines, the United States, Australia and Italy. Even the special autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau, through whose checkpoints more than 80 million mainland Chinese passed last year, have stemmed the flow of people. In Bali, tourism officials turned to the gods for help, holding a mass prayer after at least 15,000 Chinese tourists cancelled trips to the Indonesian island. Speaking to The Jakarta Post on January 31, the head of the Bali Tourism Agency, Putu Astawa, said: “We hope [the coronavirus outbreak] will be over soon. We are truly aware that the tourism industry is the backbone of Bali’s economy.” However, it looks like it could be some time before the situation improves. On February 3, the Indonesian government announced greater restrictions on those arriving from China. Data from the World Bank shows that Bali is far from alone in this predicament. Tourism accounts for 28 per cent of Macau’s GDP, but its casinos remained eerily empty over the Lunar New Year holiday as visits plunged almost 80 per cent, year on year. Las Vegas Sands chief executive Sheldon Adelson likened the once bustling Cotai complexes to “operating rooms”, reported Bloomberg. “Everybody’s got masks,” he told investors on a call. Macau has now asked all casinos to shut for two weeks, at least . Thailand, which has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases outside China and which also leans heavily on tourism to bolster its economy, expects an 80 per cent drop in visitors from the Middle Kingdom in the first four months of 2020, totalling 98 billion baht (US$3.1 billion) in lost revenue, according to a February 2 Bangkok Post article. While the outlook for Asian destinations is bleak, there is cause for cautious optimism. The region’s tourism industry was ravaged by the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003, but its recovery was relatively quick. Describing Hong Kong’s resurgence after the World Health Organisation declared the city Sars-free on June 23, the then commissioner for tourism, Au King-chi, described “unprecedented” cooperation among airlines, hotels and other businesses in the sector “in an otherwise fiercely competitive industry”. Perhaps such partnerships will once again be forged, crossing literal and figurative borders to help the region recover. And in the meantime, maybe those Balinese tourism officials didn’t have entirely the wrong idea – anything to stop the spread of the disease, whether scientific or celestial, should be embraced. Tourists arrested for having sex on a Boracay beach The Philippine island of Boracay and badly behaved tourists go together like white sands and crystalline waters. The latest transgression comes courtesy of an Australian man and a British woman, who were caught having sex on Bulabog beach on January 30. According to online portal Coconuts, the police received a call at about 5.45pm, just before the sun had set, telling them that two foreigners were getting it on. News site Sagisag reported that the pair, who were “not related to each other” and appeared to be intoxicated, were arrested and charged with grave scandal and disobedience to persons in authority. They were released after each posted bail of 9,000 pesos (US$177). Tourism is tarnishing some of Myanmar’s best loved destinations In Myanmar, complaints that tourism is tarnishing some of the nation’s destinations are mounting. English-language daily The Myanmar Times reported on January 23 that the Pyin Oo Lwin flower festival, a month-long event held in a hill town in the Mandalay region, should have been called a “trash festival” after “undisciplined visitors threw garbage wherever they wanted” despite there being enough rubbish bins. Waste has also become an issue in the ancient city of Bagan, with one tour guide telling the newspaper: “The disposal of trash like plastic is a scourge that could adversely affect the tourism industry.” That the Unesco World Heritage Site, which was established in the 9th century, is under threat from a thoroughly modern and entirely man-made pestilence is nothing short of sad, made even more so by the fact that it is avoidable.