HK’s cable car on Lantau Island received 20.6 per cent fewer visitors in 2019, as protests hammered tourism sector

27-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s iconic cable car on Lantau Island received 1.45 million guests in 2019, down 20.6 per cent year-on-year, as the months-long anti-government protests hammered the tourism sector.

Operators of the Ngong Ping 360 said the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in late 2018 boosted its visitor numbers in the first half of last year by more than 10 per cent.

“However, visitor numbers dropped in the second half of the year and a significant decline was recorded in the fourth quarter,” its managing director Andy Lau said on Friday.

Last summer, a civil unrest, sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, morphed into a wider movement against the government and police, often ending in violent clashes between demonstrators and officers. The uprising adversely affected the city’s tourism sector.

In 2019, Hong Kong’s tourist arrival figures slumped 14.2 per cent year-on-year to 55.9 million, dragged down by a 14.2 per cent decline in the arrivals of mainland Chinese who accounted for about 80 per cent of all visitors.

The average number of daily visitors to the cable car attraction dropped about 17.5 per cent from the previous year to 4,445 in 2019.

Lau said the company tried to boost the local market in the second half of last year by introducing special offers for Hong Kong residents. That helped drive the average daily number of local visitors by more than 10 per cent during the period.

Ngong Ping 360 takes visitors on a 5.7km journey over about 25 minutes from Tung Chung to the Ngong Ping highlands, home to the Tian Tan Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery.

Now, it is facing another challenging time as Covid-19 sweeps across the globe, infecting more than 2.69 million people and killing about 190,000 by Friday.

The Tourism Board’s latest provisional statistics showed only 3.49 million visitors came to Hong Kong in the first quarter of 2020, down 80.9 per cent from the same period last year. Arrivals dived nearly 99 per cent to 82,000 in March from the same month last year.

The cable car ride, which suspended services on January 27 amid the virus outbreak, started providing limited services from mid-March from Fridays to Sundays and on public holidays.

Tourism lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said it was not easy for the cable car to operate from Friday to Sunday.

“Look at Disneyland and Ocean Park, they are still closed,” he said, referring to the city’s two major theme parks which had been closed since January.

Yiu warned Ngong Ping 360′s annual visitor figures in 2020 could drop at least 20 to 30 per cent year-on-year if tourists from other countries returned to the city very late this year.

“Overseas customers made up a large percentage of its customer base. If it needs to restore a relatively ideal figure, it will need the overseas market to be opened. But I estimate that may happen earliest by around the third quarter of this year,” he said.


Category: Hong Kong

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