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Saturday, November 30, 2019, 10:04
HK reports worrying drop in tourist arrivals
By Edith Lu
Saturday, November 30, 2019, 10:04 By Edith Lu

Sharp declines in tourist arrivals to Hong Kong caused by the ongoing social unrest are expected to continue, as the number of visitors fell 43.7 percent year-on-year in October — the fourth consecutive month the total has declined.

The number of mainland visitors dropped 45.9% from a year ago. Tourist arrivals from Thailand registered the biggest decline, plunging 60.2% from a year ago

The latest data released by Hong Kong Tourism Board on Friday showed that a total of 3.31 million tourists traveled to the SAR last month, compared with the 5.88 million visitors in the same period the year before. It is the sharpest drop since July.

The board said the drop is due not only to the protests, but also a higher comparison base, with Chinese mainland visitors arrivals rising in October 2018 after the launch of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

ALSO READ: HK tourist arrivals fall 4.8% as social unrest lingers

However, this year, months of protests and social unrest in the city have led many tourists to cancel or delay their trips to Hong Kong.

The number of mainland visitors dropped 45.9 percent from a year ago. Tourist arrivals from Thailand registered the biggest decline, plunging 60.2 percent from a year ago. This was followed by South Korea (a 59.1 percent drop) and Singapore (a decline of 54.4 percent)

A fall of about 27 percent has been reported for long-haul markets. The board predicted the drop will continue in the next few months because tourists usually plan and book these trips in advance.

Overall visitor arrivals in the first 10 months this year saw negative year-on-year growth of 4.7 percent — the first since the start of the year. The board said it will start a special promotion campaign in order to win back tourists.

Weak travel demand has led many airlines such as Hong Kong flagship home carrier Cathay Pacific Airways, South African Airways and Malaysia’s AirAsia to suspend flights to and from the city.

READ MORE: HK tourism industry braces for drop of more than 50% in visitor arrivals

Hong Kong Airlines Ltd is also fighting to survive in the challenging business environment. The struggling carrier announced on Friday it had cut its flights to Vancouver, British Columbia, and stopped operating flights to Ho Chi Minh City and Tianjin.

The carrier is also delaying paying salaries as revenues dipped significantly in November.

edithlu@chinadailyhk.com

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