Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

As the Covid-19 coronavirus continues to spread across the West, there have been some glimpses of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel from its epicenter in China.

Over the past few weeks, there have been reports of tourist spots reopening and more flights resuming.

In hopes of finding more good news, I reached out via email last week to Richard Xie, deputy general manager of Century Cruises, which operates the largest fleet of ships on the Yangtze.

His response was mixed, but still offered hope as we continue to be inundated with news about the fast spread of the virus through Europe and the U.S.

"Yes, it's getting better here in China," he wrote, noting that there had been no new cases reported in China for a few days last week. He called that "great and encouraging news."

"I believe we've navigated through the hardest moment."

Local tourist attractions are now reopened in most cities in China, Xie said, although cross-province travel is still restricted, so most are only open for locals and with volume control.

Trying to dig out good news, he said, remains hard.

"The only positive prospect for us is the government seems eager to do something in order to encourage people to spend," he said.

The other good news, Xie said, is that he and his colleagues are back in the office working on any "possibilities and adjustments on cruise itineraries for a general resumption, which is believed to come soon."

Still, he noted, even if China can resume its Yangtze river cruise operations in the near future, the virus' spread through some of its top inbound markets, including Italy, Germany, Spain and the U.S., will deal yet another blow to the river industry there.

"Anyway, it is still early to predict the loss," he said. "But it is certain, the loss is huge. Currently, the local government approached us [to try] to collect each tour company's loss. I assume that they will work out some supporting policies shortly."

His final piece of advice was a now oft-repeated one that hopefully has already become common practice around the world: "Stay healthy and wash your hands as often as you can. This virus is really serious and fierce."


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