Protests take toll on Hong Kong tourism

Tourism, catering and retail industries suffered the biggest losses. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 January 2020

Protests take toll on Hong Kong tourism

HONG KONG: Visitor numbers to Hong Kong fell by nearly 40% in the second half of last year amid clashes between police and anti-government protesters.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board on Wednesday said the numbers of those visiting the Asian financial hub started to drop off in July as protests against proposed legislation allowing extradition to China gathered pace.
For the last six months of 2019, visitor numbers fell by 39% against the same period a year before. Overall, arrivals were off by 14% for the entire year. The protests have lost momentum amid mass arrests by police and since major opposition wins in district council elections in November.
Hong Kong’s economy fell into recession, its reputation as one of the world’s safest cities tarnished by the violence driven largely by anger over China’s perceived encroachments over rights retained by the former British colony when Beijing took control in 1997. The extradition legislation was withdrawn, but the protest movement morphed to include demands for greater democracy and an investigation into police tactics.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan told a forum Monday that the government estimated economic growth for 2019 would fall to -1.3 percent, a stark loss for the center of trade, travel and finance.
Tourism, catering and retail industries suffered the biggest losses, with store receipts falling by 26% in October and November against the same months in 2018.
However, the tourism board’s Chairman Y.K. Pang was quoted as saying in a Wednesday news release that he had “every confidence” in Hong Kong’s resilience and appeal as a world-class travel destination. The board said it has launched promotional events and special offers covering hotels, flights, shopping and attractions.


Aramco international listing ‘still on the cards’: Saudi finance minister

Updated 48 min 17 sec ago

Aramco international listing ‘still on the cards’: Saudi finance minister

  • The minister said that he was “very confident” that the Saudi economy was picking up speed
  • He said that international investors had responded positively to ongoing reforms in the Kingdom

LONDON: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that an international listing of Saudi Aramco was “still on the cards” but likely won’t happen soon.
He made the disclosure in an interview with Bloomberg News at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.
The minister also said that he was “very confident” that the Saudi economy was picking up speed, as the Kingdom successfully completed a $5 billion bond sale this week after receiving orders for four times as much.
“Yesterday showed very clearly that demand for Saudi credit is very high and very healthy. We are very pleased not only with the level of debt but also the pricing,” he said. “Demand is very positive. We are starting seeing results of Vision 2030. The numbers are proving that reform is working. We are basically cashing on the successes.
The minister said that international investors had responded positively to ongoing reforms in the Kingdom.
“I think investors are focusing on fundamentals,” he said. “They see the growth they see the potential. We are seeing a growth in FDI, a growth in the number of applications for licenses. The confidence is back in a strong way.”