As Hong Kong endures turmoil, did protests affect tourism?

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2019 07:09 AM

As Hong Kong endures turmoil, did protests affect tourism? 1
Civil servants attend a rally to support the anti-extradition bill protest in Hong Kong, China August 2, 2019. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

MANILA—Chris Vivar wanted to take his family to the closest Disneyland from the Philippines for a quick vacation.

Though his nieces have been waiting for months to meet Mickey Mouse, Vivar decided to cancel the trip after news of protests and violence marred one of Asia's financial hubs.

"Sa Cebu na lang, kasi ang gulo-gulo sa Hong Kong," Vivar told ABS-CBN News. "Mahirap na baka maipit kami sa mga rally na tini-teargas ng pulis."

(We'll just got to Cebu, because Hong Kong is so chaotic. I don't want to risk being held up in a rally where police throw teargas.)

Vivar is one of many travelers who were discouraged to fly to Hong Kong after mass protests against the passage of an extradition bill started in late March.

Several countries have issued travel advisories against traveling to China's special administrative region while the protests are ongoing, China Globalization and Hong Kong Management Association's Reuben Mondejar told ANC's "Rundown."

"That's actually what protests want because this is the one that calls attention," Mondejar said.

"They (protesters) lobby the countries to issue travel advisories . . . They went from consulate to consulate to make them issue travel advisories."

But data from the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) showed that more tourists arrived on the island since the protest began 4 months ago.

Tourist arrivals increased by 5.2 percent in April 2019 compared to the same month in 2018; by 19.5 percent in May; and by 8.5 percent in June, data from HKTB showed.

Most of the tourists came from mainland China, followed by Taiwanese, Filipino, Japanese and Koreans, according to HKTB data.

Mondejar said protests could take a heavier toll in the coming days now that thousands of civil servants have decided to join the rallies.

According to a Reuters report, protesters issued 5 demands: complete withdrawal of the extradition bill; a halt to descriptions of the protests as 'rioting'; a waiver of charges against those arrested; an independent inquiry and resumption of political reform.

These demands could not be easily met given that Hong Kong's legislative arm is dominated by pro-Chinese lawmakers, Mondejar said.

"Protesters are gearing up for more protests. Not big ones, but smaller ones meaning tens of thousands in different locations," he said. "It's not easing. It's in a stable progression," he said.