There is an increasing sense of desperation coming from the travel industry in Hong Kong as protests continue into their fourth month and the destination’s once-mighty travel industry continues its precipitous drop.
The Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, a member organization for travel agents, issued a statement on Wednesday appealing to the government to “resume social order as soon as possible,” noting that it “deeply regrets the escalation in violence.”
In the last two weeks, protests have intensified in Hong Kong, with police using lethal force for the first time on Oct. 1, and protesters themselves using more hostile means, such as petrol bombs. In August, the tourism industry recorded a 40 percent drop year on year in international arrivals. Travel analytics firm ForwardKeys has found that forward bookings from late September until the end of 2019 are down 58 percent compared to last year. The Travel Industry Council also noted that travel agencies have been targeted by demonstrations in recent days, while numerous large-scale events designed to draw in visitors have been canceled.
Other sources in the industry have expressed a similar sense of desperation to Skift on and off the record. The Ovolo Group, an independent hospitality group with boutique properties across Hong Kong, issued a statement asking the government for assistance, though when asked it declined to say what it would specifically like the government to do.
Given the current political climate, indicating support — or lack thereof — for the protestors’ aims is an exceedingly tricky matter for any company or organization. While calls for reprieve from the government in the form of administrative actions like waiving airline fees have been common, the Travel Industry Council’s recent statement strikes a more pointed tone, directly asking Hong Kong’s government intervene “so that the tourism industry can recover as soon as possible.”
Skift asked the Hong Kong Tourism Board for comment on the situation and they responded saying “visitor safety in Hong Kong is of utmost importance. The HKTB is monitoring the situations closely and provide latest updates to visitors on a regular basis.”