Coronavirus outbreak: Disease could have consequences for the NZ economy, tourism - Cameron Bagrie

The coronavirus is a serious health crisis impacting the lives of many, but the disease will also have an economic impact not only on China but globally.

There are now more than 2000 cases and at least 56 deaths.

People arriving in New Zealand from China will now be screened as the spread of the virus shows no sign of slowing down.

Economist Cameron Bagrie told The AM Show on Monday it's pretty clear it could impact New Zealand hard.

"They're not good signs," he said. "I saw a report over the weekend that air travel within China was down 40 percent [and] road transport was down 25 percent.

"To put this in perspective, cancelling holidays around Lunar New Year in China is a little bit like New Zealand [and] western countries cancelling Christmas."

Bagrie said the likely result of that is an impact on retailing, hospitality, and travel.

"If I have a look at New Zealand's dependence upon China - China takes about 20 percent of our exports," he told The AM Show.

"February is typically a pretty big month [for tourism] - there's about 10 percent of our tourism market. 

"Tourism's actually our biggest export earner - tourism's bigger than the dairy sector so if we start to see further softening within that sector and it's going to hurt a little bit."

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult told Radio New Zealand the timing was not good for tourism.

"This is probably the biggest week of the industry with Chinese New Year," he told RNZ.

"I guess it's not a complete disaster because a number of them are already here but the issue will have a significant effect on the tourism industry."

On Monday morning, health workers started screening passengers from the first flight into Auckland from China.

The AM Show reporter Sinelle Fernandez said passengers she's spoken to at the airport feel safe.

"They're trusting the process," Fernandez said. "They're trusting science, and they trust the way the Government's been handling it."