Date
16 December 2017
Arrivals from mainland China remain stable but tourists from Southeast Asia are significantly lower. Photo: Bloomberg
Arrivals from mainland China remain stable but tourists from Southeast Asia are significantly lower. Photo: Bloomberg

Southeast Asian tourist numbers plunge amid protests

Hong Kong has seen a sharp fall in non-mainland tourists since the pro-democracy street protests began more than three months ago.

Financial Secretary John Tsang said arrivals from outside mainland China could drop 7 percent in December, reversing gains in the September quarter before protesters took over main roads in key districts, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.      

Several hotels have posted decreases in the number of Southeast Asian tourists, with Ramada Hotel reporting a 50 percent fall.

Dorsett Hotels & Resorts, which targets medium to high-end guests, said bookings from Southeast Asian countries, Japan and Korea have tumbled but those from the mainland remain strong.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board said arrivals from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines slumped 10 percent in October from a year earlier.

Joseph Tung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, said inbound tours from Southeast Asia are down 40-50 percent, with cancellations being made at the last minute.

“Most of the media reports overseas have been negative, so many tourists are dropping travel plans for Hong Kong,” Tung said.

William Cheng, chairman of Magnificent Estates which operates the Ramada chain, said most travelers from Southeast Asia are families for whom Hong Kong’s unstable situation is a concern.

Their worries are exacerbated by a rising US dollar which has made the Hong Kong dollar more expensive because of its peg to the greenback, he said.

On the other hand, the exchange rate between the Hong Kong dollar and the renminbi remains stable and has had no significant impact on the cost of a Hong Kong tour for mainlanders.

Meanwhile, some European and Southeast Asian tourists said the street protests did not influence their travel plans, the report said.

A group of students from Singapore complained about the noise in Causeway Bay, one of the protest sites, but said the demonstrations did not affect their visit.

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