Major tourist, shopping and residential areas of Hong Kong resembled ghost towns on Tuesday, with nearly all stores and restaurants shutting for citywide anti-government protests on National Day.
Retail was brought to a virtual standstill in the global commercial hub as more than 25 shopping centres lowered their shutters fearing unrest, while at least 41 out of 91 metro stations suspended services, affecting 45 per cent of the MTR’s urban network. Causeway Bay, a usually bustling shopping district, saw its railway station close on Tuesday morning along with several malls, including Sogo department store, Hysan Place, Lee Gardens, Leighton Centre, Island Beverley and World Trade Centre.
The district’s key thoroughfares such as Hennessy Road were occupied by protesters calling on the Hong Kong government to meet the remaining demands of the movement sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, which include setting up an independent inquiry into police conduct.
Travel Industry Council executive director Alice Chan Cheung Lok-yee said only 250 mainland tourists or 10 tour groups visited the city on Tuesday, which was down 90 per cent from the same time a year ago. Another 11 groups were registered to visit the city on Wednesday, compared with an average of 110 groups year-on-year. “We expect the numbers to remain low for the entire ‘golden week’,” she told the Post. The golden week holidays, which have previously offered a reliable boost to Hong Kong trade, span the seven days from Tuesday.
On Monday, the tourism board revealed the number of tourist arrivals to the city slumped nearly 40 per cent in August year-on-year, the worst since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003.