The Hong Kong Tourism Board said on Tuesday that it will continue its annual New Year countdown with fireworks by the Victoria Harbour despite the recent civil disturbance in the city.
The event will be held as scheduled, with a contingency plan in place to cope with any unexpected demonstration, the board said, according to Apple Daily.
The countdown celebrations will begin at 11 pm on December 31 and fireworks will be let off eight minutes before midnight, according to the board. Artificial snow effect will be added in the event for the first time in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Anthony Lau, the board’s Executive Director, said the event will be held unless it becomes absolutely necessary to cancel it.
While Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu believes that there won’t be any major protests when the event is held, the tourism board will still be on high alert and will liaise with police to make sure order is kept.
The board has a flexible response mechanism in place in case of some sudden incidents, a source was quoted as saying. If protesters gather at the Central district on the day, the board will call on citizens through the police to stay away and move to Tsim Sha Tsui to join the countdown.
The police plan to deploy a force of 1,000, mainly those from Police Tactical Units and constables, at the two sides of the Victoria Harbor to maintain public order, the report said.
Meanwhile, fearing that pro-democracy protesters may form a “shopping army” on the last day of the year to block the streets, as they have been doing almost every night after the Occupy movement ended, Times Square mall in Causeway Bay has withdrawn its famous annual Apple Countdown that started 20 years ago.
The Harbour City mall also canceled its Christmas Countdown on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, according to the report.
Lan Kwai Fong in Central and Langham Place in Mong Kok, on their part, have no plans as of now to cancel their New Year countdown events.
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