Date
20 September 2019
Repeated violent conflicts and transport disruptions have led to the cancellation or rescheduling of many international conferences and exhibitions in Hong Kong, the city’s finance chief says. Photo: Reuters
Repeated violent conflicts and transport disruptions have led to the cancellation or rescheduling of many international conferences and exhibitions in Hong Kong, the city’s finance chief says. Photo: Reuters

HK Aug visitors down 40% on year: Paul Chan

Visitor arrivals in Hong Kong were down almost 40 percent in August compared to the same month last year, after a nearly 5 percent slide in July, amid the ongoing unrest in the city, according to a senior government official.

Hotels in some locations had seen occupancy rates drop to about half, while room rates plunged 40-70 percent, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po wrote in a blog post on Sunday, citing industry sources, Reuters reports.

“The most worrying thing is that it does not seem that the road ahead is easily going to turn any better,” Chan noted. 

In July tourist arrivals fell 4.8 percent on the year, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. It marked the first such annual decline since January 2018 and the biggest percentage drop since August 2016.

Retail sales in July sank by the most since February 2016 amid the anti-government protests that have gripped the city for more than three months.

Chan said the social unrest has severely damaged the image of Hong Kong as a safe international city and a hub for trade, aviation and finance.

A protest movement triggered by a now-scrapped extradition bill is taking a rising toll on the city’s tourism, retail and hotel businesses.

Chan noted that repeated violent conflicts, the blocking of roads, underground railways and the airport have led to the cancellation or rescheduling of many international conferences and exhibitions in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s total exports fell 5.7 percent year on year in July, while re-export value to the United States from China via Hong Kong declined 15.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the official.

Fitch Ratings on Friday downgraded Hong Kong’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating to “AA” from “AA+”, and said it expects public discontent will likely persist.

Chan, however, disagreed with the credit rating agency’s move, arguing that “Fitch’s view is purely speculative, lacking justification.”

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