Year-long protest, months-long pandemic drives Hong Kong hotels to the edge

Prompting them to either temporarily shut down, undergo renovations or come up with other means to earn revenue 

Hong Kong skyline from a luxury hotel’s infinity pool. anek.soowannaphoom/Shutterstock

The year-long political unrest, followed by the COVID-19 outbreak has left hotels in Hong Kong into the verge of financial distress, reported CNA Lifestyle.

Since the protests against Beijing’s tightening hold over Hong Kong hit the streets in June, the number of high-spending Chinese and business travellers visiting the region began to plummet, causing the hotel occupancy rates to collapse and the economy to crash.

Months later, news about the infectious disease surfaced and before the COVID-19 cases began to pile up, local authorities started introducing controls, including flight cancellations and travel curbs that have further halted hotels from recovering and even leading to their eventual demise.

“Nine-and-a-half hotels out of 10 are losing money now because there’re no more tourists and they need to solely rely on domestic demand, so they’re just hanging in there,” said Reeves Yan, executive director at property consultancy CBRE.

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In February, the Hong Kong Tourism Board revealed that the industry’s total occupancy rates were 29 percent compared to 91 percent a year before, as travellers for the month dropped to 98 percent.

As most borders have now closed with mainland China and travel restrictions have been extended to curb the spread of the virus, some four-star hotels have decided to temporarily close and several five-star global hotel chains have opted to renovate their property.

Meanwhile, property consultants said that budget and boutique hotels have come up with different approaches to withstand the pandemic, from offering long-term stays to renovating or converting into office spaces.