Before-and-after photos show how the coronavirus has left Asia’s biggest tourist attractions looking like ghost towns

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  • The coronavirus outbreak has wreaked havoc on the tourism industry in China and beyond.
  • Attractions like the Great Wall and Shanghai Disneyland have issued warnings to visitors, canceled events, or even shut down completely.
  • These photos show the stark contrast between Asia’s biggest attractions when there is an epidemic raging and when there isn’t.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus outbreak is devastating tourism across Asia, and these images prove it.

The problem is twofold: Attractions within China are either shut or heavily restricted, and also Chinese tourists on lockdown are no longer flying abroad.

Neighboring countries like Japan, South Korea, and Thailand are especially affected.

These pairs of before-and-after photos show how individual landmarks have been left looking like ghost towns by an outbreak that has paralyzed large parts of a continent.


BEFORE: The Forbidden City in Beijing is one of the most visited sites in the world.

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The Forbidden City on August 29.
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Beijing has been experiencing a rise in tourist numbers, with more than 4 million arrivals in 2018, according to China Daily.


AFTER: The attraction was closed indefinitely to tourists at the end of January. Photos show a couple of people milling about by the entrance.

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The gated entrance to the Forbidden City on January 24.
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The reopening of the museum is pending further notice, according to Reuters.

Source: China Daily, Reuters


BEFORE: The Temple of Heaven, a 15th-century religious center recognized by UNESCO, is another must-see Beijing attraction.

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The Temple of Heaven during the Lunar New Year holidays in Beijing on February 20, 2018.
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AFTER: The attraction is still open, but numbers are way down.

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Visitors wore protective masks at the Temple of Heaven on January 27.
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While the Temple of Heaven remains open to tourists, authorities closed down other Bejing hotspots, like the Ming Tombs and the Yinshan Pagoda, on January 24.

Source: Channel News Asia


BEFORE: The Great Wall of China is one of the most famous landmarks in the world.

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People visiting the Great Wall to celebrate the New Year on January 1.
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In 2019, officials had to cap visits at 65,000 a day because the Wall was overcrowded with local and international tourists.

Source: CNN


AFTER: Parts of The Great Wall have been closed to the public. It looks very different.

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A security guard near a closed section of the Great Wall of China on February 7.
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In a bid to limit the spread of the virus, authorities announced on January 25 that the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China would temporarily close.

Tourists visiting other sections of the Wall will have their temperature checked, according to Channel News Asia.

Source: Channel News Asia


BEFORE: Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in 2016, attracted 11 million people in its debut year.

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Shanghai Disneyland on October 4, 2016.
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The Disney theme park, which cost $5.5 billion, was the first of its kind in mainland China.

Source: Deadline


AFTER: On January 25, officials announced they would be closing the theme park indefinitely.

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Staff members outside a closed Shanghai Disneyland on January 25.
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Reuters

BEFORE: Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, welcomed 35.8 million visitors in 2018, according to Statista.

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Tourists in “Piazza San Marco” of the Venetian casino on May 9, 2008, in Macau.
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Known as the “Vegas of China,” Macau has been attracting casino enthusiasts since gambling became legal in the 1960s.

Source: Statista, Fodors


AFTER: Macau closed its casinos for two weeks after 10 people tested positive for the coronavirus on February 4. They are now open again, but everybody has to wear a mask.

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The Venetian Macau on February 5 during a general closing of the city’s casinos.
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During the closings, authorities said, the city was receiving about 2,000 visitors a day, a drop of 98% year-on-year.

Source: Reuters, CNBC


A handful of Asian cities outside China are also struggling with the dwindling numbers of tourists.


BEFORE: The Ratchada Train Night Market in Bangkok is usually teeming with people.

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A general view of the market in Bangkok on August 23, 2018.
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Reuters

Last year, 11 million Chinese visitors traveled to Thailand, but this number is expected to drop by 2 million this year, according to The Guardian.

Source: The Guardian


AFTER: The market is still open, but visitor numbers are down sharply.

A market stall owner told The Guardian that his best-selling items had come to include disposable face masks, which surpassed sales of souvenirs such as pad-Thai fridge magnets.

With so few visitors, vendors say they are struggling to make ends meet.

Source: The Guardian


BEFORE: The Literature Temple in Hanoi, Vietnam, is often cited as one of the city’s most picturesque tourist attractions.

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The Van Mieu — or Literature Temple — on February 5, 2019, the first day of the Lunar New Year.
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The coronavirus outbreak has had a big impact on Vietnam, which counts China as its largest trading partner.

Source: Reuters


AFTER: Here is the temple this year. Everyone has a face mask.

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Tourists at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi on February 12.
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On her trip to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Business Insider’s Kate Taylor noticed that most people in the city were wearing surgical masks and that “if you aren’t wearing a mask, you are seen as potentially part of the problem.”

Source: Business Insider


BEFORE: Here is the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi, a landmark that’s often used for large state ceremonies.

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The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi on March 2, 2019.
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Vietnam had 1.5 million tourists visiting its cities in 2019, according to Vietnam Tourism. A third of them came from China.

Source: Vietnam Tourism


AFTER: These tourists, all with face masks, don’t have much company.

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Tourists outside the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum on February 11.
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Tour operators in large cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Long have been receiving about half the usual number of customers, according to Vietnam Insider. Hotels and resorts are also affected, suffering a 20% to 50% decline in occupancy.

Source: Vietnam Insider


BEFORE: Over the years, South Korea has seen a surge in visitor numbers, with almost 15.5 million in 2018. Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of its top attractions.

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Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea, on September 26, 2018.
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Because of South Korea’s proximity to China, a large proportion of its tourists come from there. Almost 4.8 million Chinese visitors traveled to South Korea in 2018, according to the Korean Tourism Organization.

Source: Statista, Korea Tourism Organization


AFTER: This picture shows quieter scenes in front of the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

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Masked tourists at the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul on February 10.
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On February 19, South Korea saw its coronavirus cases jump by 50%, raising its total to 46 from 31, the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement cited in The Japan Times.

Source: The Japan Times


BEFORE: Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in Asia and a big draw for tourists.

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People using a crossing in Tokyo’s Shibuya area.
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On average, half a million people use the famous Shibuya Crossing every day including up to 3,000 every crossing cycle, according to the Associated Press.

Source: AP


AFTER: This image shows the crossing basically deserted.

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A boy wearing a mask at the Shibuya crossing on February 2 in Tokyo.
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As of February 17, there were a total number of 59 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Japan.

The country made headlines when a large cruise ship called the Diamond Princess had to be put in quarantine after an outbreak of the virus on board.

Source: Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Statista


The common concern among all these countries is how long the virus will last, as they are already feeling the burden of a slowing tourist industry, according to the Financial Times.

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A woman wearing a protective face mask crosses a bridge, following the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, in Kuala Lumpur
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Reuters

As the number of coronavirus cases increases, countries across the world are becoming increasingly worried about what this means for their tourism sectors and the overall economy.

Source: Financial Times