HONG KONG — Pro-democracy demonstrators continue to occupy Hong Kong’s main business and retail centers for the fifth day as mainland Chinese authorities suspended tour group visits to Hong Kong.
In an unprecedented move, the China National Tourism Administration told tour operators not to organize tour groups to the city, reported the South China Morning Post. The paper said tourists who booked their trips as of Wednesday would not be affected.
Though major Hong Kong’s thoroughfares are still cordoned off, choking traffic flow around the city. Thursday was another public holiday in Hong Kong so traffic was lessened as nine-to-fivers stayed home. Visitor traffic, on the other hand, has been suffering. The China National Administration ordered tour operators in China not to organize tour groups to Hong Kong. This appears only to affect tour groups, not individual travelers.
The protests are most certainly a blow to this week’s “Golden Week” celebrations – one of two weeks in the year when mainland Chinese have a whole week off. Many choose to spend their vacation in Hong Kong, making Golden Week one of the biggest shopping seasons in Hong Kong. Tourists from China make up about 75 percent of total visitors to Hong Kong and account for 50 percent of retail sales in the city. Hong Kong, in turn, is worth about 10 to 20 percent of global luxury sales.
Any impact on sales in Hong Kong are likely to have repercussions to global luxury sales. Luca Solca, managing director at BNP Paribas, estimates that 6 to 11 percent of global luxury sales come from mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong. Mainland Chinese tour groups in Hong Kong make up about 1 to 2 percent of global luxury sales, he said.
Stores have largely remained open although some shops such as grocery stores and restaurants, are experiencing delays or difficulties receiving deliveries. Meanwhile, protests look set to continue for a while yet. Demonstrators have dug in their heels, threatening to ramp up the protests. Local Hong Kong police have reportedly brought in riot gear and rubber bullets.