A massive drop in bookings hits Hong Kong

LONDON, 15 August 2019: Demonstrations in Hong Kong over 10 consecutive weekends has caused a 20.2% drop in flight bookings from Asia, says the latest update from ForwardKeys.

Based on over 17 million flight bookings daily, ForwardKeys says the recent wave of pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, culminating in the closure of the airport on Monday, deterred people from making plans to visit the city.

In the almost eight-week period from 16 June to 9 August, flight bookings to Hong Kong from Asian markets have fallen by 20.2% on the equivalent period last year.

The period under study saw a two million-strong demonstration accompanied by a general strike and riots on 16 June, the siege of police headquarters and the storming of the Legislative Council building on 1 July. More recently, riot police charging protesters with batons and firing tear gas, numerous arrests, warnings from several countries about travel to Hong Kong and mass protests at the airport that brought flight operations to a standstill.

In the first fortnight (16 to 29 June), bookings fell 9% and in the second (30 June to 13 July) the decline slowed to 2.2%.

At that point, it appeared that the demonstrations were having a short-term impact on short-haul travel. However, in the following 27 days (14 July to 9 August), there has been a dramatic 33.4% drop in bookings.

There is clear evidence that the protests have reversed a positive travel trend in which bookings for the first six and a half months of the year were up 6.6% on 2018.

ForwardKeys Spokesman David Tarsh said: “The situation in Hong Kong has deteriorated substantially in the past eight weeks and particularly so in the past four.

“During June and early July, ForwardKeys saw no decline in long-haul bookings to Hong Kong; however, that is no longer the case. From 16 June to 9 August, long-haul bookings to Hong Kong are now 4.7% down on the equivalent period last year.

“Furthermore, ForwardKeys’ latest numbers do not yet include the events of Monday, when all flights were cancelled and video of police clearing protestors from the airport was beamed around the world; so ForwardKeys is not optimistic about reporting a recovery in the immediate future.”

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