Tourists may shun HK amid chaotic protests, opt for alternate destinations
Friendlier travel policies worked out recently by a good number of countries might dissuade Chinese mainlanders from visiting Hong Kong where violent protesters are hurting its economy, experts said, with Japan becoming the latest country to simplify its visa application process.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, Japan opened an online process on Tuesday for single-trip tourist visas for Chinese travelers.
Russia has decided to open online applications for tourist visas starting in January 2021, huanqiu.com reported on July 27. Uzbekistan started to allow online Chinese applications for tourist visas in July last year.
July and August used to be heated tourist seasons for Hong Kong, said Zhou Xishun, deputy secretary general of the China Tourist Hotel Association. But this year, the ongoing chaotic and increasingly violent protests in Hong Kong have put pressure on the city’s tourism industry, especially when other competing destinations are rolling out friendly policies to attract more Chinese mainland tourists.
According to a report by zaobao.com, the overall hotel occupancy rate in Hong Kong dropped by 2 percent in June, and in areas where the riots took place, the occupancy rate decreased more than 10 percent.
On the Kowloon side, hotel rates are expected to drop 5-10 percent due to the effects of the riots, the report said.
The rioters in Hong Kong are urged to stop their actions otherwise it will do huge damage to the region’s economic development, analysts said. Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Sunday that the anti-extradition protests will further compound its economic troubles and tarnish its business environment.
Meanwhile, destinations like Japan are taking measures to attract Chinese travelers. According to yicai.com, the number of Chinese visitors to Japan increased 11.7 percent to 4.53 million in the first half of 2019, with spending of 895 billion yen ($8.25 billion).
The new policy of online visa applications will make Japan even more attractive, experts said.