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Asia Minute: Hong Kong Protests Hitting Business

AP Photo/Vincent Thian
Protesters hold up a banner during a demonstration at the airport in Hong Kong Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

As we approach another weekend, residents of Hong Kong are bracing for another set of protests. Demonstrations have been growing for the past two months, and apart from concerns about safety and civil rights, this week there is new evidence that they are taking a toll on business.

This week the United States and Australia joined several other countries warning their residents about safety concerns in Hong Kong. The United Kingdom, Japan, Ireland and others have had warnings in place for several weeks.

As of Friday morning Hong Kong time, 22 countries and territories now have travel advisories about Hong Kong, and it’s hitting the local tourism industry.

Hong Kong’s Commerce Secretary tells the South China Morning Post that tourist arrivals are down by nearly a third in the first part of August compared to a year ago – reversing a trend of growth in the first part of the year.

Earlier this week, a measure of Hong Kong business activity fell to its lowest level since the financial crisis, and its sharpest fall in more than a decade.

Some local businesses are taking a cautious approach to potential future protests.

This week the owner of several Hong Kong shopping malls said it would not allow police into the malls unless a crime has been committed. That announcement came after demonstrators had threatened to disrupt one of the malls unless the corporate owner made such a statement. 

And it’s not just local companies feeling the impact.

This is corporate earnings season. And this week, companies from Cathay Pacific and Intercontinental Hotels to Marriott and the Walt Disney Company mentioned that protests in Hong Kong are hitting their revenue.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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