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Hong Kong Democracy Protests May Hurt Tourism, Groups Say

Tourists take photographs with mobile devices next to Victoria Harbour in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, China. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg
Tourists take photographs with mobile devices next to Victoria Harbour in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, China. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

July 29 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong business associations said a threatened pro-democracy protest in the city’s financial district will dent tourism, hurting retail sales.

Consumer spending in the first quarter has dropped 4.4 percent from the previous three months, and any protests will have a “significant negative impact” in the third quarter, the five groups including the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Occupy Central With Peace and Love, an activist group, is threatening to hold a 10,000 strong sit-in at the city’s business district should electoral reforms for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s top leader fail to meet international standards. The plan has met with opposition from China, tycoons, accounting firms and commerce chambers which said the protests will drive away tourists and cripple business.

The protests will “deter a lot of tourists from coming to Hong Kong,” Yiu Kai Pang, chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, told reporters yesterday. “That will affect a lot of people, not just tourism in Central.”

The Alliance for Peace and Democracy, which opposes Occupy Central, has collected 935,635 signatures from residents and tourists against the movement, organizer Robert Chow said yesterday by phone.

Petition Signing

The associations yesterday said they won’t ask employees of companies belonging to their groups to sign the petition.

The other associations that took part in the press conference yesterday are the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, and the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong.

Occupy Central won’t have a big impact on Hong Kong as a financial center, as it has deep foundations, David Chin, UBS’s head of corporate-client solutions for Asia, said July 24.

China is demanding that all candidates for the chief executive election be vetted by a committee, a move opposed by some lawmakers and Occupy Central which want public nomination.

Almost 800,000 people voted in an unofficial referendum this month for public nomination, and the city saw its biggest political rally in a decade on July 1 as people marched to demand democratic reforms.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected because of the wrong speaker identified.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Jill Mao in Hong Kong at mmao14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tan Hwee Ann at hatan@bloomberg.net Ben Scent

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