Travel and Tourism
Hong Kong is a favoured travel destination for Chinese tourists. Unaware of the democracy protests rocking the city, they are getting more than they bargained for as they arrive to go shopping and sightseeing.
Tourists from China arriving in Hong Kong for the Golden Week Holiday are getting more than they bargained for upon their arrival in the former British Crown Colony.
In addition to the shopping and the sightseeing that has made Hong Kong one of their favourite travel destinations, they are getting inconvenience.
Many Chinese tourists can’t take taxis or buses to their hotels because roads are blocked. I actually ran into a few of them two nights ago, making their ways through the crowd with their suitcases on wheels.
Some of these Chinese tourists can’t order food at restaurants because deliveries have been disrupted. Even Hong Kong McDonald’s is having difficulty keeping all items on the menu.
Cant’ Shop Till They Drop
Worst of all, those Chinese tourists wanting to shop at designer boutiques in Admiralty, Central, Causeway Bay, Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui, and other tony shopping districts are finding that many of their favourite retail outlets have been shuttered.
Cartier, Coach, DKNY, Dunhill, Dolce and Gabbana, Fendi, Prada, and Rolex are among the high-end brands closing shop at outlets located near protest sites.
Jewellers Chow Tai Fook, one of the most popular high-end retail chains in Hong Kong, shut at least 22 of its 87 outlets across the city on Chinese National Day.
And some of the stores that are remaining open are closing their doors hours earlier than usual.
See No Evil, Hear No Evil
The democracy protests in Hong Kong have been making headlines around the world ever since the heavy handed police crackdown against protestors on Sunday night.
The image of tear gas canisters exploding amid peaceful protesters and police in full riot gear with fully loaded assault rifles facing down unarmed teenagers and 20-somethings have been broadcast over and over and over again on TV stations around the world.
There is one spot, however, where the public has been kept in the dark about the protests currently taking place in Hong Kong: China.
Owing to censorship of the protest movement on the mainland (because of fears of ‘copycat’ protests), many of the visiting Chinese tourists had no idea what was awaiting them until they crossed the border.
Others found out about it only after they boarded planes. If they had known, would they have changed their plans? Or would more Chinese tourists have come?
Group Tours Cancelled
Owing to the rising tensions, the Chinese government has suspended visits by group tours to Hong Kong. Tours that had already been booked, however, will still go ahead.
So it will take awhile for the effects of the ban to be felt.
“It means that there will be no more mainland tours a week from now,” Hong Kong Travel Industry Council Executive Director Joseph Tung Yao-chung told the South China Morning Post.
According to Ricky Tse Kam-ting, Chairman of the Hong Kong Inbound Tour Operators Association, the move is unprecedented.
Interestingly, individual travellers – who account for 67% of mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong – will not be affected.
So what was the point of cancelling tour groups? Was it simply a way of punishing Hong Kong? Or was it designed to turn those in the travel industry against the protesters?
I think this is known as a ‘United Front’ tactic!
If it was mere spite, can more retaliatory measures be expected if the protest movement doesn’t self destruct?
Chinese tourists are an important source of revenue for Hong Kong, accounting for 75% of visitors to the city. While they tend to stay in budget or moderately priced hotels, they are gaining a reputation for their lavish spending habits.
Chinese tourists spend more money per capita in Hong Kong than any other group.
Some of the Chinese tourists currently in Hong Kong have expressed annoyance at the inconveniences they are facing. Other Chinese tourists seem ambivalent. And other Chinese tourists simply couldn’t care less.
All they want to do is sightsee and shop – and eat all that YUMMY Chinese food that everyone says is the best in the country!
Hong Kong as Role Model?
But not all. Many Chinese tourists appear to be enthusiasticly supportive of the protestors. They feel excited … invigorated, even.
And maybe this is what Beijing fears most: might Hong Kong serve as a ‘role model’ for the rest of the country?
“We could never do this at home!” these mainlanders seem to think. And many of them – quietly and anonymously – are joining the protests and taking selfies to share with their friends back home.
And maybe that’s NOT what Beijing fears most … maybe it’s NOT that deep … maybe they’re just control freaks …