Published on : Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Empty hotel rooms, struggling shops and even disturbance at Disneyland: these have all affected Hong Kong in a big way including the city’s economy, with no end in sight. City leader Carrie Lam has warned that the international financial center is facing an economic crisis that is worse than either the 2003 SARS outbreak that crippled Hong Kong or the 2008 financial crisis.
The figures are quite bleak. Hotel occupancy rates are down by “double-digit” percentages, along with visitor arrivals in July. Group tour bookings from the short-haul market have gone down 50%. “In recent months, what has happened in Hong Kong has indeed put local people’s livelihoods as well as the economy in a worrying, or even dangerous situation,” said Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development.
The city’s tourism industry is under threat. “I think the situation is getting more and more serious,” said Jason Wong, chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong. The impact is so awful that travel agents are considering putting staff on unpaid leave trying to combat this low phase.
A Hong Kong Tourism Board spokesperson said that the number of forward bookings in August and September has “dropped significantly”, hinting that the economic toll is expected to linger throughout the summer season. A string of travel warnings issued by countries including the US, Australia and Japan is likely to add to the industry’s woes.
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