Hong Kong political instability results in major job losses, reveals WTTC

Significant decline in international visitor spending is expected in 2019.
Travel & Tourism GDP contribution plummets.
Political instability is the hardest crisis to overcome for destinations, according to latest WTTC research.

Research conducted by the World Travel & Tourism Council [WTTC], which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, predicts that as a result of the 6-month long political instability and civil unrest in Hong Kong, there is expected to be a loss in international visitor spending of $8.4 billion USD, while the full year figure for 2019 is expected to be 16% below 2018 levels. 

Notably, Travel & Tourism employment, both directly and through the supply chain could expect to see a loss of up to 90,000 jobs. This represents a loss of 15% from current levels of Travel & Tourism employment in the city.

Research has also shown that there has been a loss of $10.1 billion USD from Travel & Tourism total GDP, much of it likely due to the current situation. 

The 2019 annual Economic Impact Report from WTTC highlights the importance of the Travel & Tourism sector to Hong Kong’s economy, with 84% of spending coming from leisure travel, and 77% of all Travel & Tourism spending coming from international visitors (who include mainland Chinese visitors for the purpose of the research). In 2018 Hong Kong was among the top ten fastest growing cities for Travel & Tourism, and its international visitor spending reached $43.9 billion USD – the largest amount of international visitor spending in the world. 

According to WTTC’s recent report, Crisis Readiness, political instability is the most difficult crisis to overcome, surpassing terrorism, natural disasters, and disease/outbreaks. Thus, the decline the sector is facing may persist, even after a peace has been made.

Further research has shown international arrivals between June and September of 2019 were down 23%, compared with the same period last year. Furthermore, according to WTTC’s Knowledge Partner, ForwardKeys, the number of visitors from mainland China to Hong Kong by air, dropped by 53.3% between July and September. Bookings from the end of September to end of December this year, are down by 58.2% from last year. 

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC said: “Political instability has proven to be the most challenging crisis to overcome, with the longest recovery times. However, through public private collaboration, effective communication and continued efforts that focus on preparedness and prevention, we can make a real difference in reducing both the economic and human impact. We are seeing huge efforts by Hong Kong’s private and public sectors in bringing back peace and improving the business environment. and I believe hope that Hong Kong will can prove resilient through this difficult time. The whole Travel & Tourism community cares for Hong Kong and extends its greatest support as it works to move back towards normality.”