Oz upgrades HK alert as hotels fret

Top News | Sophie Hui, James Yu and Reuters 8 Aug 2019

Australia has elevated its travel alert level against Hong Kong, citing the increasingly unpredictable nature of protests.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued the alert on Tuesday on its website.

"Flash mob protests and random attacks on protesters have become less predictable and are expected to continue," it warned.

"There is a risk of violent confrontation between protesters and police, or criminally linked individuals, particularly at unauthorized protests."

It reminded Australians visiting Hong Kong that tourist and residential areas have been affected, and they should not go to large public gatherings. There, too, is a higher risk at night and at weekends.

The alert follows that of Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Britain and Taiwan.

The number of independent visitors and tour groups dropped in July. Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, owner of the Peninsula hotel, said it is worried about the impact of the protests on tourist arrivals as well as the broader economy.

"We are concerned about the effect this political uncertainty may have on our results, especially given the proportion of our income which is earned in Hong Kong," said hotel group chief Clement Kwok King-man yesterday.

Another Tsim Sha Tsui hotel, the Royal Garden Hotel, has sent a letter to its suppliers asking them to offer a 5 percent discount to reduce its operational burden.

But the two theme parks said their events and operations have not been affected.

"Over the past few weeks, our daily attendance met our expectation, thanks to the buy-two-get-one-free special offer, and the launch of VR experience The Abyss - VR Space Voyage and Ocean Park Summer Water Battle," Ocean Park said.

But it added that attendances are always affected by external factors such as volatile economic circumstances, policy changes, public sentiment, tourism trends and fierce competition.

"It is difficult to conclude at this stage if the demonstrations had affected our attendance and this question may be more relevant to Hong Kong's tourism sector as a whole," the park said.

Disneyland operations are normal, a spokesman said.


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