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Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 22:44
Social unrest damaging HK's major business sectors
By China Daily
Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 22:44 By China Daily

Violent and illegal protests – which have been going on for over three months in Hong Kong – are really hurting the city's major business sectors – especially tourism, catering and retailing, industry leaders warn.

The riots and demonstrations have also discouraged tourists from visiting, while deterring consumers spending during the Mid-Autumn Festival – with lower hotel occupancy rates and declining restaurant bookings.

The catering industry took a big hit during the Mid-Autumn Festival as restaurant bookings decreased 20 percent compared with the Mid-Autumn Festival last year

Simon Wong Ka-wo

chairman of Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades

Simon Wong Ka-wo, chairman of Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades, said on Sept 13 the catering industry took a big hit during the Mid-Autumn Festival as restaurant bookings decreased 20 percent compared with the Mid-Autumn Festival last year. This is equivalent to a loss of HK$100 million in revenue.

Wong said that with fewer tourists traveling to Hong Kong, the catering business in key tourism areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok was much quieter.

Some restaurants have had almost no bookings, said Yeung Wai-sing, chairman of Association for Hong Kong Catering Services Management Ltd. He noted that some restaurants even waived their service charges or offered 10 percent discounts to attract customers.

Hong Kong's hotel industry is hurting too as hotels experienced low occupancy rates due to fewer tourists. According to Ta Kung Pao, hotels and tourist guest houses in the tourist area of Victoria Harbor were reducing room rates – with some offering HK$400 per night during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Sam Lau Kung-shing, chairman of the Tourist Guest Houses Federation, said the businesses of hotels and tourist guest houses has fallen by 90 percent in recent months. He said hotels could attract customers by cutting rates, but guest houses were really suffering.

The months from June to August are regarded as the tourism peak season in Hong Kong but this year, the tourism industry is suffering badly due to ongoing violent demonstrations and vandalism.

In August, tourist arrivals to Hong Kong fell 40 percent year-on-year and hotels in some locations have seen occupancy rates drop to about half, while rates for rooms dropped 40 to 70 percent, noted Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po.

Hong Kong International Airport, the world's third-busiest for international passenger traffic and the world's largest air-cargo aviation hub, has reported a double-digit decline in both passenger and cargo traffic in August.

The passenger traffic dropped 12.4 percent to 6 million passengers which marked the biggest one month fall since June 2009. Passengers traveling to and from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Southeast Asia saw bigger falls compared with August last year.

 HKIA said this was due to falling visitor arrivals amid the prolonged social instability. More than 20 countries and regions including Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the US have issued travel warnings for Hong Kong. 

The bleak outlook continued at the beginning of September. In the first 10 days of September, only 15 tour groups from the mainland visited Hong Kong – a fall of 90 percent compared with the same period last year, according to figures released by the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong.

The council said that due to demonstrations and violent clashes, tourists are now avoiding travel to Hong Kong for safety concerns.

During the weekend of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a fresh wave of mass violence and vandalism rocked the city. Protesters blocked roads, started fires, damaged MTR stations and attacked government headquarters on Sunday.

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