STATELY home Blenheim Palace is losing out on income this month from 5,000 Chinese visitors forced to stay away by the coronavirus.

Some flights out of China have beens suspended and the European Union could soon ban all direct flights from China

Dominic Hare, chief executive officer of the palace in Woodstock, said the coronavirus crisis was already having an effect.

The palace is potentially missing out on £142,500, the amount that would be raised by 5,000 visitors buying an adult ticket for the palace, park and gardens.

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Mr Hare said: “We are seeing quite visibly a shortfall in our Chinese visitors because of the coronavirus and I suspect we will lose 5,000 visitors in February.

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"Chinese travel operators have stood down and they won’t be back until they feel they are on top of things.

“We very much hope the trips have been pushed back in time rather than avoided - we hope the visits are postponed rather than cancelled.

Mr Hare said he hoped a new 1920s exhibition entitled Let’s Misbehave, which starts tomorrow and runs until April 13, would be one way of boosting visitor numbers.

The 1920s exhibition will feature costumed characters and entertainment, vintage cars, themed afternoon tea in the Orangery Restaurant, music, dancing and more.

Tourism organisation Experience Oxfordshire has been keeping up to date with the latest on the coronavirus through its links with national agencies such as VisitBritain and the Tourism Alliance.

VisitBritain has been speaking to Chinese media outlets sharing a message of reassurance, welcome and the importance of the Chinese market to the UK.

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VisitBritain is also pausing all marketing activity in China and reviewing work with partners.

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VisitBritain director Patricia Yates said: “Chinese authorities as well as the UK Government and global organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the international community are all working very hard to limit the impact of the coronavirus with the health and safety of people rightly the priority.

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"With the Chinese authorities suspending outbound travel, the Foreign Office advising against all but essential travel, and BA subsequently cancelling flights, there is an obvious and immediate knock-on impact for the tourism industry, and we are working closely with our team in China and across government and industry to monitor and assess the situation.

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“The extent of the impact on the industry depends on the length of the suspension of travel. "It is currently low season for trips from China to the UK, with only about 15 per cent of holiday trips taking place from January to March.

"We would hope for a subsequent surge in bookings when the suspension is over.”