Hong Kong tourism workers, retailers paying price for unrest

2019-08-23 03:12:07Xinhua Editor : Zhao Yuning ECNS App Download

Hong Kong's tourism sector and retail businesses are suffering from the impact of unrest. "I hope those protesters will stop making troubles and let others live," said a store owner.

With trip planners turned away from Hong Kong amid recent chaos, ordinary Hong Kong shopkeepers and those working in the tourism industry said that the protracted unrest has taken a major toll on their livelihood.

The summer season from June to August used to be the peak season for Hong Kong tourism. However, a Hong Kong tour guide surnamed Chow said that the summer boom has turned into a chilly winter because of the unrest in Hong Kong.

According to Chow, she usually has 12 to 15 tour groups a month at this time of year, and earns nearly 30,000 Hong Kong dollars (3,823 U.S. dollars) a month in peak season.

However, her business has taken a turn for the worse this summer, with the number of tour groups dropping from eight in June to four in July. So far, she has had no tour group in August.

"I've been a tour guide for more than a decade, and business has never been this bad," Chow said, adding that she is worried that she might not have earn a cent in August.

Currently more than 20 countries and regions have issued travel advisories for Hong Kong over the unrest.

"The tourism industry is seasonally based, and many tour guides, like me, count on the summer season to support their families," said Chow.

As the new school term is about to commence, Chow said the schooling expenditure would cost a fortune for her family.

"I hope the social order can be restored soon to let ordinary Hong Kong residents live their life," said Chow.

For a Hong Kong taxi driver also surnamed Chow, Hong Kong economy has already been battered by the violence and unrest.

"I walked by the pier the day before yesterday, and found that there were hardly any tourists there," he said.

The sharp drop in tourist number has affected many industries here, including the taxi business. According to Chow, in the past two months, the daily income of him and other taxi drivers has dropped by 40 percent.

Chow said the destruction of Hong Kong economy and order by the illegal "Occupy Central" incident in 2014 left a deep impression on him.

"However, what is happening now is far worse, because the violence is worse," said Chow, adding that many taxi drivers have decided to halt their work because "they are afraid of getting into trouble."

If the violence and chaos continue, no Hong Kong industry can be spared the pain, said Chow.

"I think the priority is to restore social order and bring to justice those who have disrupted Hong Kong society," said Chow.

Weeks-long violent protests have also taken a toll on Hong Kong retail industry.

"Because fewer tourists come here, the medicines are now covered in dust," said a cosmeceutical store owner who called himself Wai.

Wai's store is located at To Kwa Wan in the eastern shore of Kowloon Peninsula, the first stop for many tour groups to Hong Kong. However, violent clashes have left the bustling neighborhood deserted.

According to Wai, since July, the number of visitors from the mainland has dropped sharply, and his business has shrunk by 70 percent.

"Now, Hong Kong is so chaotic that tourists dare not come," said Wai. "I hope those protesters will stop making troubles and let others live."


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