HK Visitors Plunge 99pct In February

19-Feb-2020 Intellasia | Forbes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The business and leisure travel industries are in the crosshairs in Hong Kong as concerns over the novel coronavirus outbreak continue to grow. According to new data from the Hong Kong Tourism Board and compiled by Bloomberg, arrivals into Hong Kong have plunged 99 percent year-over-year. In February of 2019, Hong Kong saw more than 200,000 visitors per day coming in from neighbouring China and other international destinations. As of last week, that number had dropped to fewer than 3,000 arrivals.

Many venues supporting the tourism industry have already shuttered due to lack of demand and concerns over the virus spreading in public. A notice posted on the website of the Hong Kong Space Museum, a major, central tourist destination, says that “All… museums and cultural venues will continue be temporarily closed and programmes held at these venues will be cancelled until 2 March 2020 (Monday), to tie in with the response level for Novel Infectious Disease being raised to Emergency Response Level and avoid people from gathering.”

Hong Kong’s peak tram, arguably the city’s most popular tourist destination, remains open with limited operating hours.

According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong airport traffic is also down dramatically. In January the airport had its worst month in five years and news of the virus outbreak broke only mid-month.

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag air carrier, has squarely absorbed much of the impact from the drop in visitor volume. At Hong Kong International Airport, the carrier has already closed several of its lounges. Earlier this month the carrier also started asking employees to take unpaid leave as it tapers back the volume of flights that it operates out of its hub. Already, the carrier has severely restricted its flights from Hong Kong into mainland China and adjusted inflight service to minimise exposure to shared amenities like blankets or hot towels.

Other sectors that contribute to the travel and tourism industry in Hong Kong have also been affected. Instead of closing outright, many hotels in Hong Kong have closed public areas. At the Peninsula an iconic business travel destination, two of the popular hotel’s restaurants have closed for the month while the Shangri-La, another hotspot for business travellers, has rolled out partial closures in its restaurants.

As the novel coronavirus runs its course, airlines, hotels and tourist destinations will continue to feel the dearth of travellers not willing to return to Hong Kong. In 2003, the SARS epidemic ended up costing global airlines $7B. With the current epidemic already outpacing the 2003 outbreak in terms of affected patients, the financial impact to Hong Kong’s tourism industry may be significant.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/grantmartin/2020/02/17/hong-kong-visitors-plunge-99-in-Feb/#5c7c586b6a75

 


Category: Hong Kong

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