Hong Kong tourism drops 40%, worst slowdown since SARS


Scenes of violence in the streets, metro and Hong Kong International Airport have scared tourists away, causing the biggest drop in visitor arrivals to the former British colony since the 2003 SARS virus outbreak.

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According to a blog post by Paul Chan, the financial secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, tourist arrivals fell by around 40% in August compared to the same period in 2018.

This followed more marginal year-over-year declines of 5% in July.

Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific also expects a significant drop in revenue in August, after only slight impacts to operations in June and July due to the protests.

“Recent events in Hong Kong over the past two months did not have a substantial impact on our passenger business in July; However, we anticipate a much larger impact on our revenue in August and beyond, ”said Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific director of customer and commerce, in a statement last month.

“Traffic to Hong Kong for both business and leisure has weakened considerably and we have also seen traffic outside Hong Kong starting to slow down, particularly on our short-haul network including mainland China, Taiwan , South Korea and Southeast Asia. . “

Many foreign governments have issued various travel advisories to their citizens planning to visit Hong Kong, including the Canadian government warning that travelers “exercise great caution”.

Last month, Chan wrote, hotel occupancy rates fell nearly 50% and room rates fell 40-70%.

“The repeated vandalism and disruption of major transport infrastructure, such as national roads, railways and airports, not only disrupted the daily routine of citizens, but also affected many international conferences, exhibitions and mega-events. “, one reads in the message of Chan.

“Many conferences and business trips have been postponed or even directed to other destinations. “

The annual Hong Kong National Day grand fireworks display in Victoria Harbor on October 1, marking the founding of the People’s Republic of China, is still expected to go ahead as planned.

As the protests now enter their 14th week, several major sectors that are the backbone of Hong Kong’s economy are affected – everything from small business and luxury retail to foodservice. and restaurants.

The shopping districts and indoor malls that normally teem with locals and tourists currently see only a relative trickle of foot traffic, with sales likely to be in representative declines.

Hong Kong’s theme parks, Disneyland Resort and Ocean Park, have also been affected, with numerous recent social media posts showing more sparse-than-normal crowds at both attractions.

Chan also noted that the growing tension of the Sino-US trade war leads to a decrease in the value of total goods exported through Hong Kong.

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