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Coronavirus Outbreak Could Impact Tourism In The Mountain West

An up-close view of the coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A novel coronavirus named 2019-nCoV has the world on edge, and its economic impacts could reach the Mountain West.

Thousands of cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide, with most occurring in China. However, the outbreak is sure to have big economic impacts in the U.S.

Flights in and out of China are being cancelled. Chinese officials are temporarily shutting down factories, casinos and even cities to try to get a handle on the situation.

That all affects global trade and the economy, even in the Mountain West.

Mike PeQueen, managing director of the wealth management firm HighTower Las Vegas, said it’s too early to tell how much of an impact the coronavirus will have on industries in our region, such as tourism. But many U.S. businesses are already feeling the effects.

“Even Apple stock has gone down, because their factories are impacted in China,” PeQueen said. “So anyone who manufactures in China and ships to the United States — which is a lot of companies — have the ability to be impacted.”

He’s closely watching how the virus will impact tourism and other Mountain West industries.

“If it has the ability to stop people from moving around the globe, that hurts the tourism-related industry,” he said. “Certainly Las Vegas is one of those, but tourism is a big industry in many other places around the United States and certainly around the West.”

The three largest employers in Las Vegas have casino properties in Asia that are temporarily shut down, PeQueen said. For example, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation actually receives 85% of its revenue from its Asian properties.

PeQueen said if the coronavirus were to spread across the U.S., the industries most at risk are those where people work close together. In the Mountain West, that means tourism and entertainment, recreation, manufacturing and retail.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
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