The onslaught of social unrest and coronavirus pandemic has changed the travel patterns in Hong Kong, bringing along permanent changes to the hotel industry. It’s hard to see a swift rebound from this one-two punch.
Visitor arrivals fell 52.7 percent to 3.2 million in January 2020 from a year earlier, according to the latest data from the Hong Kong Tourism Board, with mainland Chinese arrivals shrinking by 54.2 percent.
The number of non-mainland visitors also declined, by 46 percent year on year, showing that the tourism sector has been affected across the board.
Before the two crises, the Hong Kong tourism and hospitality sector had already been undergoing a fundamental structural shift over the past 20 years with a notable transformation of travel patterns.
Overseas visitors used to stay in Hong Kong for more than 4 nights per visit, but that had fallen to just 3 nights. Overnight visitors, who used to account for over half of the total before 2012, now constituted about three-fifths of arrivals.
Hotel room occupancy rate, which averaged 91 percent in 2018, started to crumble in the second half of 2019 amid the protracted social unrest. In January, it fell to an abysmal 59 percent, versus 92 percent in the same month last year.
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