After leading to the cancellation of a major event in the city, the massive street protests in Hong Kong over an extradition bill in recent weeks are threatening to dent visitor confidence, although travel trade players report little to no impact on tourist activity for now.
The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival scheduled on June 14-16 at Central Harbourfront was abruptly cancelled after the Central Government Complex (CGC) in Admiralty was besieged by protests on June 12 and 13, which saw thousands of protestors clashing with police and rounds of tear gas fired.
A further protest march last Sunday marked a historic day as over two million people took to the streets, but the movement ended smoothly without causing any major disturbances to the city.
Travel Industry Council, executive director, Alice Chan hasn’t received any requests for assistance from members so far.
She said: “The impact of last Wednesday’s incident will be short-term. The dragon boat event was cancelled because it happened to be located near where the incident took place. All other parts of Hong Kong are still very safe. I believe visitors will continue to have confidence in travelling to Hong Kong.”
For W Travel’s managing director, Wing Wong, however, the consequences may be longer term due to dented confidence in Hong Kong’s stability as an events host.
He said: “This may affect organisers’ decision to stage international events in Hong Kong. To us, it means additional effort to explain to clients when preparing quotations in future.”
As the mass protest cools down, Wong assured that for now, disruption to travel plans can be kept to a minimum with some route planning. “On June 23, we will have a group of 300 people who booked their stay in Kowloon. We’ll avoid going to areas affected by the protest.
“Overall speaking, I haven’t got any cancellation or postponement of tours but heard of some cancellations from FITs booked through OTAs. Frankly, the city is back to normal so it’s safe to visit. Only a small area around CGC is still heavily guarded by police.”
Despite not seeing any booking cancellations, Reliance Travel (Hong Kong), general manager, Agnes Chan said the incident has shaken travel confidence and clients had been making enquiries every day to track the development.
”As they start planning their summer holidays now, many FITs from South-east Asia put their travel booking on hold and adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Their main concern is safety,” she added.
A Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) spokesman said: “HKTB has advised visitors to avoid going to the area but stressed that other parts of Hong Kong remain normal, and tourist activities are not affected. It is safe to travel to Hong Kong. As Admiralty is the major transportation hub and home to various hotels, shopping malls and attractions, the large-scale demonstration in the area may cause inconvenience to visitors. The HKTB will continue to closely monitor the development and keep trade partners and visitors informed of the latest information.”