Hong Kong’s Tourism Takes A Serious Toll As Protests Continue

Amidst ongoing protests, Hong Kong’s tourism industry becomes adversely affected as hotels and retailers take drastic measures

explore, travel, hong kong’s tourism takes a serious toll as protests continue

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Tourism has been a major driving force of Hong Kong’s economy and helps to create employment opportunities; in fact, tourism is recognized as one of Hong Kong’s four pillar industries. However, the tourism industry is currently facing its biggest crisis yet as protests in Hong Kong continue.

Retail and hotel industries affected: Workers take unpaid leave, occupancy rates dip

explore, travel, hong kong’s tourism takes a serious toll as protests continue

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Hong Kong’s tourism, retail and hotel industries have been particularly hard hit amidst the ongoing protests. Occupancy rates of hotels in some districts fell more than half, leading room rates to decrease by 40 to 70 percent.

A recent survey of 438 working across 40 hotels in Hong Kong by the Hotels, Food and Beverage Employees Association highlighted the problematic situation for Hong Kong’s hotel industry. Among those interviewed, 77% have been asked to take unpaid leave of up to three days and 46% expect their monthly income to be reduced by as much as HK$3,000 ($383). If the protest worsens, 43% believe that hotels will cut jobs.

In the retail industry, sales by value dropped 11.4 percent in July, the first full month affected by the protests. Airlines have also cut the number of flights into Hong Kong as travellers cancel their plans to visit the city. Just recently, Hong Kong’s international airport became the focus of targeted protests, causing tourists to be stranded in the airport and flights unable to depart.

Tourism numbers at its lowest since SARS outbreak period

This is not the first time Hong Kong has faced a sharp decline in tourism. During the financial crisis in 1997 and the SARS outbreak in 2003, tourism also took a big hit as tourist arrivals saw a huge drop in numbers. However, tourism has again taken its toll during the current Hong Kong protests. Tourist arrivals to the city declined almost 40% in August from a year earlier – that’s the worst drop since the 2003 SARS epidemic.

And locals are not optimistic about recovery anytime soon. The protests in Hong Kong are in their 16th week already and do not seem to be stopping anytime in the near future. This will definitely have adverse effects on a country that depends heavily on foreign tourists and investments.

Since the protests, there have been many postponed international events that will bring Hong Kong into the spotlight. The non-exhaustive list include the Women’s Tennis Association’s Hong Kong Open, luxury fashion brand Chanel’s annual Cruise show and renowned US comedian Trevor Noah’s show. With so many high-key international events being canceled, there is less need for potential travellers to visit Hong Kong.

Is it still safe to travel to Hong Kong?

explore, travel, hong kong’s tourism takes a serious toll as protests continue

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For now, foreign ministries around the world have advised their citizens to avoid travelling to Hong Kong if possible. However, business still goes on as usual, as tourist attractions and most shops remain open. Getting around Hong Kong might be a hassle though, since protests will be going on along major roads while the underground subway experiences massive disruptions.

Do enquire about Hong Kong’s current situation through your country’s foreign ministry, and take necessary steps to ensure your safety if you are still planning to travel to Hong Kong.

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