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A Star Ferry crosses Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.

A Star Ferry crosses Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.

Photographer: Bertha Wang/AFP/Getty Images

CityLab
Transportation

Hong Kong’s Star Ferry Needs a Rescue Plan With No Tourists in Sight

A 142-year-old Hong Kong icon is in dire straits due to political turmoil and Covid.

Corrected

The Star Ferry, an icon of Hong Kong and arguably the world's most famous ferry ride, is in financial trouble. But in typical fashion for the city, billionaires — and shopping — could hold the key to its survival. 

The 142-year-old ferry, which transports passengers across Victoria Harbour from Hong Kong island to the Kowloon mainland, is seriously indebted. The Star Ferry Company saw a loss of more than HK$70 million ($8.9 million) since mid-2019 when mass protests erupted in the city, according to a company statement in March. Its two ferry routes recorded 1 million passengers in the first two months of the year — just 27% of the level in 2019.