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 The extradition legislation was withdrawn, but the protest movement morphed to include demands for greater democracy and an investigation into police tactics.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.


Dubai rents may be bottoming out as ‘green shoots’ appear

Updated 20 January 2020

Dubai rents may be bottoming out as ‘green shoots’ appear

  • An estimated 45,000 homes were completed in Dubai in 2019 according to Chesterton estimates

LONDON: Confidence may be returning to Dubai property despite a bloated market for off-plan homes, according to a report from Chestertons, the real estate broker.

Although apartment and villa sales prices were down 2 percent and 3 percent respectively in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the previous quarter, rental rates are stabilizing.

But supply issues continue to represent the biggest challenge facing the market, with 45,000 new units completed in 2019 and that expected to double this year.

“The Dubai residential market in Q4 2019 is alluding to a more positive outlook for 2020 thanks to the slowdown of sales price declines and the leveling of rental rates,” said Chris Hobden, of Chestertons MENA. “This does, however, have to be tempered by the volume of new units scheduled for delivery in 2020, which makes the short-term recovery of prices in the emirate unlikely.”

In the rental market, no movement was witnessed in the fourth quarter with the market supported by a draft law which would fix rental rates for three years upon the signing of a contract. 

“To ensure high occupancy in 2020, landlords will have to be realistic in the face of tough market conditions. The incentives previously offered to tenants, such as rent-free periods, multiple cheques and short-term leases, will continue, with an increase in tenant demand for monthly direct debit payments also likely” added Hobden.