Hong Kong protests impact local tourism market
With images of protesters shutting Hong Kong airport seen around the world, tourist arrivals in the city have plummeted.
Our reporter Eugene Benson takes a closer look at the impact the ongoing protests are having on Hong Kong's tourism market.
Hong Kong is a tourist's paradise. It's a city famous for world-class shopping, buzzing nightlife and fabulous restaurants -- It also has a reputation for safety.
But for the last three months, it hasn't felt like that.
Since June, Hong Kong has been in turmoil. Its streets have been flooded with anti-government protesters - and violence and chaos have followed.
Its public transport systems have been paralysed, and its airport -- one of the biggest aviation hubs in the world -- has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights.
Two women talk to a taxi driver on the street in Hong Kong, China, June 28, 2012. [File Photo: IC]
Perhaps none of Hong Kong's core business sectors has been harder than tourism, an industry that employs more than a quarter million people. Some of the statistics are staggering:
- Tourist arrivals in Hong Kong are down at least 30% since June with the number expected to increase
- Meanwhile, tourist arrivals from Chinese mainland have dropped by nearly 50% in August.
Michael Tsang, founder of Hong Kong Free Tours, says his business has taken a hit.
"So for the months of June and July business is actually flat compared to last year, but for August business is down around 20-30 percent but compared to some of our friends in the industry where they serve more tourists, those players in the market are probably down I would say 70 to even 90 per cent."
And what changes are you making to adapt?
"Well because of the type of tour we do, we are actually here to educate people more, so we find this time is even more important to tell our guests the story of what has happened to Hong Kong. So because of that even more we feel we have to invest in the future of our business. "
Hong Kong is of course famous for its vibrant and exciting night life with a seemingly endless supply of bars and restaurants which are huge drivers of the local economy. Live music and performance, too, are synonymous with Hong Kong.
Formally LA-based performer Nicole Claspell who after a national tour in the USA and stints in Las Vegas is performing at a five star hotel in the heart of central Hong Kong.
"There has been a noticeable drop off in patronage and people coming out and hotel occupancy I think all around Hong Kong has been down 50 per cent even as low as down to 30 percent occupancy this past week, so there will be times midweek and even on weekends when we are expecting our biggest crowds where I'll be singing for maybe a handful of people maybe four or five people."
Tourism generates $17 billion US for Hong Kong's GDP, if the protests and unrest continues there's no question that figure will drop.