But now, as COVID-19 sharply curtails travel across the region, analysts and governments of countries that have become heavily reliant on Chinese visitors—some overly so—are dampening their forecasts. More than 40,000 hotel bookings on the Indonesian island of Bali have been canceled, according to officials there, and the outbreak could shave up to 0.3 percentage points off the country’s GDP growth. Billions of dollars in tourism spending are projected to be lost by Vietnam. Tourists from China are the largest group of visitors to Thailand, but the government expects the annual number of Chinese travelers to fall by at least 2 million. A hotel manager in the Thai city of Chiang Mai told me the situation was a “total mess,” as travel agents and hotels scrambled to reschedule and collect payments from canceled tour groups. Immigration figures for the city’s airport show an near total collapse in the number of arrivals from China starting in late January. Casinos in Macau, the world’s gambling capital, normally teeming with players from the mainland, are shuttered. Lisa Wan, a professor at City University of Hong Kong’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management, was blunt in her assessment: “The global tourism industry is expected to suffer massively during the outbreak,” she told me…

Though Macau’s economy is almost wholly dependent on gaming, after a string of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the government forced all 41 casinos to halt operations for a 15-day period starting on February 5. Numerous hotels have temporarily shuttered as a result, and residents are largely abiding by the government’s recommendation to stay home. The gondolas used to ferry tourists through the artificial canals at the Venetian Hotel sat empty on the mouthwash-blue water, opera music echoing off the faux-Italian-building fronts. One security guard standing in front of a stopped escalator at the Parisian Hotel said that without any visitors, things had gotten “very boring.” A sales attendant in a luxury boutique busied himself by styling a mannequin, removing and replacing a pair of sunglasses and tweaking a bucket hat before settling on a final look, then starting again.