Carnival hyped to replace parade amid protest woes

Top News | Sophie Hui 27 Nov 2019

The traditional Lunar New Year parade may be replaced with a four-day carnival amid the unrest, the new chief of the Tourism Board said.

Concerns have been raised on whether the night parade - organized on the first day of the Lunar New Year in Tsim Sha Tsui for 24 years - can run smoothly on January 25 amid protests along Nathan Road and Canton Road.

The three-hour parade could perhaps be replaced by a carnival on the first four days of the Lunar New Year, executive director Dane Cheng Ting-yat said.

Cheng, who took office this month, said the board would like to upgrade the parade into a carnival on its silver jubilee, featuring large-scale displays, performances by international performers and food stalls.

The board is also looking for a new venue to host the event, Cheng said.

With visitor numbers in the first 10 days of November falling 40 percent year-on-year - and visitors' spending declining as well - Cheng plans to shift his target from visiting foreigners to locals and expatriates in the city.

Visitors from short-haul markets have significantly declined, on top of a 20 percent decrease in long-haul markets.

He said visitors from some regions have changed their travel destinations. For example, Japanese tourists are going to Thailand and Vietnam instead.

In view of this, he wants to work through locals and expats to attract their relatives and friends to visit Hong Kong.

Measures include discounts from airlines, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and shops.

Cheng also said the board is preparing for the Hong Kong WinterFest and the New Year countdown celebrations, and they will take public safety and the social condition into consideration.

The winter festival will be held from December 11 to New Year's Day at Statue Square in Central, featuring an 18-meter semi-transparent Christmas tree with LED lights and neon light strips, designed by an international team.

Local and tourists can even walk into the tree for photo opportunities.

With the New Year countdown, Cheng stressed the board will place public safety as its prime concern.

He hopes the countdown will carry on this year as he does not want to see the event canceled. He added that the board will ask uniform groups to help with crowd control if necessary.

Furthermore, Cheng said the organizer of the Hong Kong Sevens has visited Hong Kong earlier and given positive feedback.

He believes if calm is restored in the city, the tournament can be held in April next year as planned.

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