Tourists may shun HK amid chaotic protests

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/30 21:33:40

Destinations like Japan simplify visa process to lure Chinese visitors

Travelers pass through a crowd of protesters at the Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1 arrival hall on Friday. The protest of Hong Kong opposition forces had annoyed passengers and disrupted the busy airport. Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

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, 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, 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, the South China Morning Post reported.

Meanwhile, destinations like Japan are taking measures to attract Chinese travelers. According to, 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. 

"Japan is among the most popular overseas holiday destinations for Chinese tourists," Jiang Yiyi, director of international tourism development at the Beijing-based China Tourism Academy, said. "As the process of visa applications is now simplified, more tourists will be attracted to Japan from competing destinations, including Hong Kong." 

Safety is among the top concerns of Chinese mainland tourists when travelling overseas, Zhou told the Global Times. As competing destinations for short holidays abroad, Japan and other countries, especially those in Southeast Asia, are becoming more popular with Chinese tourists. 

"Short holiday trips to the Hong Kong and Macao [Special Administrative Regions], Japan and Southeast Asian countries account for at least 70 percent of all outbound trips by Chinese mainland tourists," Zhou said. "Hong Kong used to be popular thanks to its location and easy access to travel permits." 

But as the riots persist, tourists from around the world will certainly turn away from Hong Kong, industry insiders said, while calling for a restoration of order and security in the special administrative region. 

"The riots are costing Hong Kong a lot of international tourists and diverting them to other places," Zhou said. "I don't think it will last long enough to have any long-term effect, but if it does, Hong Kong's image as a world-class travel and shopping destination will be tainted."

Newspaper headline: Tourists may shun HK amid chaotic protests, opt for alternate destinations


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