Published on Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Hong Kong tourist arrivals down 40%

It is safe to say Hong Kong's tourism industry is in a full-blown crisis 15 weeks after protests began.

The city is reeling with tourist arrivals down by 40%, financial secretary Paul Chan said.

It has not been this bad since the SARs epidemic crisis more than 15 years ago.

Hong Kong's status as a safe destination has been hit badly, Chan acknowledged in a blog post.

"The most worrying thing is that the situation is not likely to turn around in the near future," he wrote.

Retail sales and the hotel industry have been particularly hard hit, Chan says.

Occupancy rates have more than halved in some areas while room rates have sunk by 40-70%.

The city's hotels enjoyed an average 86% occupancy rate in July 2018, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Business travel spend is significantly down and a number of lucrative MICE events have been cancelled or moved to other cities, said Chan.

Gross retail sales dropped 11.4% in July, which was the first complete month since the protests began and confidence among small business owners is at a record low.

Last year, Hong Kong was one of the world's most visited cities, with 30 million foreign visitors.

Some analysts are even warning of a technical recession later this year due to the protests and a potential impact from the ongoing US-China trade war.

Hotel, theme park and transport operator China Travel said continued protests would be 'catastrophic' for the tourism and business travel industry, and severely impact the overall economy.

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