End of line near, warn tour coach drivers

Tour coach drivers staged a slow-drive protest yesterday to express how badly their lives have been affected by the ongoing protests. Some 60 coaches left Kai Tak and drove across the Eastern Harbour Crossing and Central-Wan Chai Bypass to reach the Central Government Offices in the...

Sophie Hui

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tour coach drivers staged a slow-drive protest yesterday to express how badly their lives have been affected by the ongoing protests.

Some 60 coaches left Kai Tak and drove across the Eastern Harbour Crossing and Central-Wan Chai Bypass to reach the Central Government Offices in the morning.

The number of visitors to Hong Kong in August plunged about 40 percent from the 5.89 million in the same period last year, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po wrote on his blog.

Timothy Chui Ting-pong, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, said the number of mainland tour groups is only 5 percent that of last year.

He said the next two months are crucial to the industry as the continued social unrest will cause travel agencies and businesses in tourism-related sectors to close down.

"Some travel agencies and coach companies can only last for another one or two months," Chui said.

"They may have to close down or lay off some employees, so we would like to send a message to society again through the slow-drive protest that we are having great difficulties."

He said many employees are being suspended or forced to take pay cuts.

Chui hopes the government can coordinate with banks in order to defer the loan repayment of coaches, taxis and minibuses, which would relieve the financial pressure on small and medium enterprises.

Coach driver Cheung said he earned more than HK$10,000 a month last summer, but has no income this month.

"I only worked six days last month," he said. "We are almost self-employed. If there is no work, we have no income."

Another tour guide, Wan, said he used to lead more than 10 tour groups a month before the anti-fugitive bill protests, but there have been no group tours these days.

He also said the demonstrations at the airport have had an adverse impact on foreign tourists visiting Hong Kong.

Wan said there used to be about 200 people in a sightseeing group tour to Victoria Peak, but that number has plummeted to five as of late.

Ocean Park has also been much quieter than last summer, with the fewer visitors no longer having to wait in long queues to enter the aquarium or other attractions.

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com