Ongoing turmoil in Hong Kong have sent the city’s once thriving tourism industry into a tailspin, as arrivals from key source markets suffered dramatic plunges since protests began in June.
The number of mainland Chinese visitors coming to Hong Kong by air has nosedived 53.3 per cent from July 1 until September 23, and forward bookings from September 24 until December 30 are 58.2 per cent behind from the same period last year, according to a study by ForwardKeys.
Protests against the now-scrapped extradition bill, which began on March 31, initially made little impact on travel to Hong Kong from mainland China. The turning point came in mid-July, when flight bookings to China fell dramatically, hitting a low point in mid-August, coinciding with the shut-down of Hong Kong’s airport. At that time, bookings fell more than 100 per cent, signalling that cancellations exceeded new bookings.
The ongoing protests have continued to have a major impact and at the time of production of ForwardKeys’ report in the third week of September, weekly bookings were still more than 40 per cent down from the equivalent week in 2018.
Looking to the future, there is no sign that things will improve, according to the travel analytics firm. Forward bookings for travel to Hong Kong from mainland China between September 24 to December 30 are currently 58.2 per cent behind from the same period in 2018.
Any hopes that the recent National Day Golden Week (October 1 to 7), traditionally a period when Chinese visitors flood Hong Kong, would mark a recovery would be displaced, with forward bookings for the week 39.7 per cent behind. The same appears true for the Hong Kong Winter Festival and Christmas sales season (November 29 to December 31), for which forward bookings are currently 68.7 per cent behind.
Jameson Wong, Asia-Pacific business development director, ForwardKeys, said that considering “that mainland China is Hong Kong’s most important source market and the tourism industry is responsible for 300,000 jobs in Hong Kong, these numbers reveal that the demonstrations are delivering a devastating blow to the economy of the Special Administrative Region”.