The much-publicised civil unrest in Hong Kong has caused the number of travel bookings being made to slump, it has been claimed, with Australians travelling to Hong Kong for business or pleasure urged to “exercise a high degree of caution”.
Spanish travel intelligence firm ForwardKeys said that the increasingly disruptive pro-democracy demonstrations in the Chinese-controlled province have already caused a slump in flight bookings from across Asia, down by 20.2 per cent between 16 June and 9 August on the same time last year.
However, the immediate impacts have been even more pronounced. The data firm stated that travel bookings to Hong Kong from the rest of Asia — excluding China and Taiwan — crashed by a third (33.4 per cent) in the weeks between 14 July and 9 August.
The results also pre-date the latest escalation of the demonstrations, which this week spread to Hong Kong’s airport.
“The situation in Hong Kong has deteriorated substantially in the past eight weeks and particularly so in the past four,” said ForwardKeys spokesperson David Tarsh.
“During June and early July, ForwardKeys saw no decline in long-haul bookings to Hong Kong; however, that is no longer the case. From 16th June to 9th August, long-haul bookings to Hong Kong are now 4.7 per cent down on the equivalent period last year.
“Furthermore, ForwardKeys’ latest numbers do not yet include the events of Monday, when all flights were cancelled and video of police clearing protestors from the airport were beamed around the world; so, ForwardKeys is not optimistic about reporting a recovery in the immediate future.”
DFAT alert on Hong Kong unrest
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has issued an alert to Australians visiting Hong Kong through its Smartraveller website in light of the protests.
It urged Australians visiting the former British colony to “exercise a high degree of caution” amid escalating violence, but noted that this was not a higher alert level than the amber rating that had previously been in place.
“‘Flash mob’ protests and random attacks on protestors have become less predictable and are expected to continue. Tourist and residential areas have been affected,” it warned.
“There is a high risk of violent confrontation between protestors and police, or criminally linked individuals. The risk is greater at night, on weekends and public holidays. We strongly recommend you avoid large public gatherings. Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.”
Smartraveller updated its warning on Tuesday (13 August) as the protests “intensified” at Hong Kong International Airport, with the alert “still current” on Wednesday.
“Intensified protests at Hong Kong International Airport have resulted in significant disruption, including the cancellation of flights. Check your flight status on the Hong Kong International Airport website or with airlines directly,” it said.
“For Australians requiring consular assistance, please contact the Consular Emergency Centre +61 2 6261 3305 or the Australian Consulate +852 2827 8881. Our level of advice has not changed: ‘exercise a high degree of caution’.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.