Hong Kong tourist arrivals down a record 96 per cent

Hong Kong: Hong Kongs battered tourism sector hit a new low amid the coronavirus pandemic in February when arrivals slumped to 199,000 – the daily average in the first half of last year, a media report said on Monday.

The Tourism Board’s latest statistics showed a drop of more than 96 per cent year-on-year for the period, after the government rolled out measures from February 8 to stem the spread of the disease by closing all but three border checkpoints with mainland China, where the virus first originated last December, the South China Morning Post newspaper said in the report.

For the rest of that month, the average number of tourists coming to the city per day stood at just 3,300, of which only one in five were from mainland China, which used to account for about 80 per cent of all Hong Kong’s visitors.

Across the globe, 47 countries and jurisdictions have issued advisories against travel to mainland China, with 28 of those including Hong Kong.

“The whole month’s visitor arrivals only account for a day’s total in the first half of last year, which shows how dire the situation is,” the the South China Morning Post quoted Tourism Board Executive Director Dane Cheng as saying said on Monday.

“We will roll out plans to support industry stakeholders.”

Key tourist attractions such as Ocean Park in Southern district and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort on Lantau Island closed their doors indefinitely in January.

The record-low figure was far worse than when the city came under the grip of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in 2003.

Tourism arrivals in May that year dipped to 427,000.

In Hong Kong, seven new coronavirus cases were recorded on Sunday, bringing the local tally to 148.