Ovolo Group’s founder and CEO has called on the Hong Kong government for assistance for the local hospitality industry due to the “current economic downturn” in the region.
Girish Jhunjhnuwala said the situation in Hong Kong has been felt across “all corners of the city”, including the retail, aviation and financial sectors, with the tourism industry being the hardest hit.
Hong Kong has hosted more than 16 weeks of consecutive pro-democracy protests by Hong Kongers, which began in late March due to a now abandoned plan to allow extraditions to mainland China. The region is also facing the impact of an ongoing trade war between the United States and China.
Since Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests began in late March, the Hang Seng 100 Index – composed of Hong Kong’s 100 largest companies – has seen a drop of more than 1,000 index points as of 20 September.
In reaction to the current situation in Hong Kong, Girish said tourism has always been a vital pillar of the Hong Kong economy, with the city acting as a hub for business and leisure travellers from across the world.
“It’s devastating to see the effect that the recent situation in our city has had on local businesses, particularly those of us in the hospitality industry,” he said.
“As reported by the [South China Morning Post], tourist arrivals YOY have fallen by five per cent in July and an alarming 40 per cent in August … group arrivals from the mainland have also dropped by 90 per cent in the first 10 days of September.”
“When our businesses weather tough times, those whom are hit the hardest are not the top-level executives, but our team members – the employees working at the forefront of our organisations.”
Girish is calling on the Hong Kong government and Hong Kong Monetary Authority to “step in” to lend a hand to local businesses to “protect Hong Kong’s status as a thriving tourism hub” for years to come.
The Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters show no signs of backing down until their five demands are met. These are: for the now removed extradition bill to China to be banned, for leader Carrie Lam to step down, an inquiry into police brutality, for those who have been arrested to be released, and greater democratic freedoms, as reported by CNN.
On Sunday, protesters attempted a “stress test” of Hong Kong International Airport. According to SBS News, this is code for disrupting travel links or occupying buildings.
In a bid to stop protesters making their way to the airport, transport operators reportedly reduced the number of stations the city’s Airport Express train would stop at and pared down bus services – effectively dissuading plans by protesters to disrupt transport.
In August, Hong Kong International Airport – one of the busiest in the world – was forced to cancel all flights in and out of the region for two days after thousands of peaceful protesters entered the airport for a sit-in. Another disruption on 1 September saw road and rail links to the airport blocked.