The recent wave of demonstrations in Hong Kong has deterred travel to the city, but the effect is short-term, according to a report from ForwardKeys.
In the four-week period from June 16 to July 13, flight bookings to Hong Kong from Asian markets fell by 5.4% on the equivalent period last year. In the first fortnight (June 16-29), bookings fell 9.0% and in the second (June 30 – July 30), 2.2%. This sharp set-back in bookings reversed a positive trend in which bookings for the first six and a half months of the year were 6.6% up on 2018.
The analysed period was marked by a two million strong demonstration accompanied by a general strike and riots on June 16, the siege of police headquarters on June 21, the storming of the Legislative Council building on July 1 and riot police charging a group of protesters with batons on July 7.
The bookings data excludes China and Taiwan, with ForwardKeys explaining that a fall in bookings from those destinations in the latter part of June could also be explained by the timing of the Dragon Boat Festival, which fell 11 days earlier this year than it did in 2018.
Olivier Ponti, vice president, insights, ForwardKeys, said: “While the numbers do not look good, things are not all bad for Hong Kong’s visitor economy. So far, the adverse media coverage of the demonstrations has not caused an overall decline in longhaul bookings to Hong Kong and the number of Asian bookings made in 2019 is still ahead of those made during the same time period in 2018 – although growth has slowed substantially since the mass protest of June 16.
“Also, it seems as if the lowest period occurred prior to the storming of the Legislative Council. However, on the less optimistic side, there were further demonstrations after our most recent numbers were run, so another downturn is possible.”