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Hong Kong pro-democracy protests take toll on local tour operators, retailers

Hong Kong pro-democracy protests take toll on local tour operators, retailers

With trip planners turned away from Hong Kong amid ongoing mass pro-democracy protests, Hong Kong shopkeepers and those working in the tourism industry said that the unrest has taken a major toll on their livelihood.

The summer season from June to August used to be the peak season for Hong Kong tourism. However, one Hong Kong tour guide said that the summer boom has turned into a chilly winter because of mass protests.

According to the guide, she usually handles 12 to 15 tour groups a month this time of year, and earns nearly 30,000 Hong Kong dollars ($3,823US) a month in peak season. This year the number of tour groups dropped from eight in June to four in July. She has had no tour group in August so far.

“I’ve been a tour guide for more than a decade, and business has never been this bad,” she said.

Currently more than 20 countries and regions have issued travel advisories for Hong Kong over the unrest.

Hong Kong tourism industry is seasonally based, and many tour guides count on the summer season to support their families.

As the new school term is about to commence, Chow said the schooling expenditure would cost a fortune for her family.

“I hope the social order can be restored soon to let ordinary Hong Kong residents live their life,” said Chow.

The sharp drop in tourist number has affected many Hong Kong industries, including the taxi business. According to the local cabbies, the average daily income of taxi drivers has dropped by 40 percent.

Weeks-long protests have also taken a toll on Hong Kong retail industry.

“Because fewer tourists come here, the merchandize are now covered in dust,” said a cosmeceutical store owner.

The store is located at To Kwa Wan in the eastern shore of Kowloon Peninsula, the first stop for many tour groups to Hong Kong. However, the protests have left the bustling neighborhood deserted.

According the store keeper, since July, the number of visitors from the mainland has dropped sharply, and his business has shrunk by 70 percent.

“Now, Hong Kong is so chaotic that tourists dare not come,” he lamented.

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