Hong Kong protests blamed for 40-per-cent slump in inbound visitors

Ongoing Hong Kong protests have been blamed for a 40-per-cent slump in inbound visitors to the territory in August.

Given travellers account for about 50 per cent of Hong Kong retail turnover, that figure does not bode well for official retail sales figures for the month, due to be released in early October. A predicted double-digit decline now seems inevitable, especially as the luxury sector is hardest hit by a drop in visitors.  

In a weekend blog post translated by Reuters, finance secretary Paul Chan said August’s year-on-year fall of 40 per cent followed a more modest decline of 5 per cent in July. 

He said hotel occupancy rates have dropped by as much as half and room rates are down as much as 70 per cent as operators battle for a dwindling customer base.  

“The most worrying thing is that it does not seem that the road ahead is easily going to turn any better,” Chan said in his blog, as translated by Reuters.

Despite chief executive Carrie Lam’s announcement that the much-despised extradition bill was being formally withdrawn (as opposed to suspended), protestors returned to the streets during the weekend. While the majority were peaceful, a small group of radicals smashed up MTR station facilities and lit fires in the heart of the luxury shopping precinct of Central, including one at a station entrance. Those images are playing across television screens and online worldwide, potentially discouraging visitors from travelling to Hong Kong. 

Chan said the Hong Kong protests have severely damaged the territory’s image as a safe international city.

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