Some Solvang businesses are feeling impacts of fewer Chinese visitors amid Coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 11:57 PM, Feb 18, 2020

SOLVANG, Calif. — Some Solvang businesses say fewer Chinese tourists have been visiting the popular Danish town as the Coronavirus continues to make traveling difficult for Chinese nationals.

There is concern this could be part of a bigger trend of fewer Chinese tourists traveling to the area.

On a typical weekday, General Manager of The Landsby, Barry Prescott says several of their 51 rooms are full with visitors from China.

"We did approximately fifteen to twenty five rooms mid-week with the China visitor [and] it was growing," Prescott said.

But recently everything changed.

"That's pretty much gone.. it's one hundred percent gone actually. So it's slower mid week [but] fortunately we do pick up on weekends [with people] from the L.A., Orange County area," Prescott said.

Some have started to speculate if the decline could be contributed to the Coronavirus making it more difficult for Chinese nationals to travel as airlines continue to scale back or cancel flights, in what some say is already a slow winter tourism season.

"It's a worry of course. This year it's the virus, last year it was the fires, and the year before it was the mudslide. So there's always something going on the winter months when we are the slowest," said Prescott.

Some Solvang businesses are now questioning if this new decline could become a part of a bigger trend of fewer Chinese tourists visiting the area in general.

"We saw a drop about two years ago, but now with the Coronavirus, it's dropped even more. We've seen just a few [tourists] but compared to normally, it's probably five percent of what we normally see," said Else Marie Lund Petersen, General Manager of The Copenhagen House.

Scott Shuemake, a tourism marketing contractor for the city of Solvang, tells KSBY that continuing to rely on these visitors could be troublesome, saying in a statement:

As China cracks down on outflows of capital, one could expect a decrease in foreign tourism for the country as a whole as its harder and harder for the average Chinese family to convert sufficient quantities of RMB to USD. Also as China’s economy is in free fall (again without the virus), fewer working class Chinese are taking extended holiday. Assuming the tourists are in fact coming from Asia, it’s likely that even without the nearly 90% drop in air traffic being reported elsewhere, that a reliance on tourism from this region is dangerous and facing a slowdown.

Shuemake says that so far most businesses have not submitted their sales numbers for January and February, so they can't compare from this year to last year yet.

On February 28, the city of Solvang will be hosting its State of the City event, where city leaders plan on introducing new city initiatives and will possibly give more insight on some of the sales trends they're seeing.