Hilton's CEO is confirming that the hotel chain has been forced to close 150 hotels throughout China in response to the deadly coronavirus. Hilton's Christopher Nassetta made the announcement during an earnings call for Hilton's fourth quarter this week. The decision temporarily shutters 33,000 rooms in total. The closures in China will cause Hilton to lose roughly $25 to $50 million if the outbreak of the coronavirus lasts for another three to six months. Of course, there is no way of knowing exactly how long the virus will continue to impact world travel and world economies.
Hilton's decision to close hotels in China is not surprising. The demand for rooms among international travelers in China is expected to essentially evaporate down to nothing in the weeks to come. The Department of State is warning American citizens to avoid traveling to China for any reason. Major airline carriers across the globe have already halted service to China for the foreseeable future. The list of airlines suspending service to China includes United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air France and Air Canada. In fact, more than 75 carriers have already canceled or altered flights in response to the coronavirus.
Major airlines and travel companies are being reasonable when it comes to helping travelers make alternate plans in the face of the coronavirus. Waivers should be available for you if you've booked a flight to China that you no longer plan on taking. It's also possible that travel insurance could kick in for travelers who paid for policies or booked trips using credit cards with built-in travel insurance.