protests
Protests in Hong Kong [Credit: Kyle Lam, Bloomberg]

Impact of protests on Hong Kong travel industry revealed

Hong Kong: The impact of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong on short-term rental business in the city has been revealed, as hosts and hotels report significantly fewer bookings ahead of the peak travel season.

According to short-term rental data provider AirDNA, only 50 per cent of rentals listed on Airbnb in Hong Kong were booked during October, while more than 70 per cent were booked in October at the same point 12 months prior to that. 

That drop has occurred at a time when Airbnb listings have increased by nine per cent over a 12-month period. As well as lower occupancy, hosts of entire homes brought their rates down by an average of 17 per cent, compared to 2018, and nightly prices dropped from $138 to $115.

Furthermore, neighbourhoods such as Central and Wan Chai, where the protests intensified, were not the only places to be affected by the decline in occupancy rates as figures reveal.

As many of the clashes between the Hong Kong police and protesters took place in tourist hotspots like the Victoria Park and high-end shopping area Tsim Sha Tsui, occupancy rates in the Central and Western District and the Wan Chai District fell by 24 and 27 percentage points from a year ago, according to QZ.com.

Some hosts have now taken the step to add the words “non-protest area” to their listing to drive more bookings at a tense time for the city.

The hotel industry was similarly affected as occupancy rates across all hotels fell to 68 per cent in October 2019 from 92 per cent a year before, according to provisional figures produced by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The average nightly rate also went down by 27 per cent, from HK$1,556 to $1,135 [US$200 to $146].

Tourists from Mainland China decided to swerve Hong Kong as their next holiday destination due to the protests too. As a result, concerts, conferences and competitions were cancelled over safety concerns for tourists and guests.

Travel and tourism plays a central role in Hong Kong’s economy. In fact, the travel industry accounted for approximately four per cent of Hong Kong’s GDP in 2018, employing around seven per cent of its domestic workforce in the process.

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