Thai tourists avoid Hong Kong amid protests

Thai tourists avoid Hong Kong amid protests

Riot police patrol at the airport express central station in downtown Hong Kong on Saturday. (AP photo)
Riot police patrol at the airport express central station in downtown Hong Kong on Saturday. (AP photo)

The number of Thai visitors staying overnight in Hong Kong fell in July as the Chinese semi-autonomous territory was battered by prolonged protests calling for democracy.

The Hong Kong Immigration Department reported 31,211 arrivals of Thai nationals staying overnight in the territory in July, 6.6% fewer than the same period last year. But single-day visitors climbed 11% to 10,337 in the same month, it said.

Overall, the number of Thai tourists to Hong Kong from January to July slightly decreased -- by 2.7% -- to 41,548.

The Association of Thai Travel Agents has estimated travel packages to Hong Kong will drop by more than 30% this year due to the protests and the sagging economy in Thailand.

Hong Kong welcomed 40 million tourists during the first seven months, up 11% from the same period of last year. But July tourist arrivals fell 4.8% year-on-year to 5,196 million, the first annual decline since January 2018 and the biggest percentage drop since August 2016.

The immigration figures for July were the latest released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Hong Kong Finance Secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong visitor arrivals plunged nearly 40% in August from a year earlier as sometimes violent anti-government protests take a rising toll on the city's tourism, retail and hotel businesses.

Hotels in some locations had seen occupancy rates drop to about half, while room rates plunged 40-70%, he said, citing industry sources.

"The most worrying thing is that it does not seem that the road ahead is easily going to turn any better," Chan said in his blog on Sunday.

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