The negative trend observed in August 2019 for tourist arrivals to Hong Kong accelerated in September with total overnight tourists declining by 50% last month compared to the same month of 2018. An end to Hong Kong tourism woes is unfortunately not in sight for the time being…
It took more time than usual for Hong Kong Tourism Board to release figures for September. But observers could guess that it was because figures were probably not very favourable for the former British territory. And they were not wrong.
The last count for September shows that the city lost in September over 40% of all tourist arrivals compared to September 2018. The city recorded 1.19 million tourists compared to 2.04 million a year earlier. While total arrivals from Mainland China were down by 42.5% to less than 800,000, short haul markets showed the largest drop. Total arrivals from tourists collapsed by over 50% to 184,000 compared to 367,000 a year before.
All ASEAN countries sent less tourists to Hong Kong in September. The largest decline was recorded out of Singapore, down by 62%, followed by Thailand, down 54.5%, Vietnam by 52% and Malaysia by 48.5%. Relatively more resilient were the Philippines, down 23% and Indonesia by 19.5%. Less affected -but still into negative territories- were long-haul markets. They drop on average by 27% with Europe down between 15% and 20% according to each country.
For the first three quartals of 2019, Hong Kong total number of tourists declined by 5.8% to just reach 20 million arrivals. Short-haul markets were down by 7.6% to 3.5 million tourist arrivals.
However, Hong Kong Airport recorded a smaller decline compared to tourist arrivals, due to steady figures from transfer passengers. According to the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA), HKIA handled 4.9 million passengers and 33,390 air traffic movements, representing year-on-year declines of 12.8% and 1.0%, respectively. The drop in visitor traffic was the key factor accounting for the overall decrease in passenger volume in September.
Transfer /transit passenger traffic however recorded a 5% increase and the number of passengers travelling between Hong Kong and Japan also saw a growth of 4% when compared to the same period last year.