China Hong KongStrategically cancelling fireworks, the city celebrates instead with a light show and carnival to keep the predicted boost in visitors entertained

Chinese New Year brings brief relief to Hong Kong

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The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Carnival will celebrate the beginning of a likely challenging Year of the Rat for Hong Kong
The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Carnival will celebrate the beginning of a likely challenging Year of the Rat for Hong Kong

HONG KONG - Chinese New Year is approaching, typically one of the busiest times of year for transport in and out of Hong Kong.

Advance bookings for Lunar New Year appear promising with the boost in transit passengers; however, we continue to see a significant shortfall for the period after that, especially from inbound traffic.– Ronald Lam Siu-por, Cathay Pacific chief customer and commercial officer

While the Lunar New Year fireworks, a signature annual celebration, have been cancelled this year, the light show over Victoria Harbour will take place, as well performances in West Kowloon Cultural District and the multi-day carnival will still happen.

Overall, 2019’s arrivals are down 14% from 2018’s 65.15 million to 55.9 million. It was the second half of the year that suffered most with arrivals down 39.1%, a stark contrast to the positive 13.9% increase in Q1.

Visitors staying overnight fell 18.8% to 23.76 million, a key statistic as those staying multiple days spend more.

Cathay Pacific announced a gratifying boost in advance bookings for the annual Chinese New Year holiday, but the good news is short lived.

Looking forward to 2020 as a whole, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier said it expects more challenges and will be cutting overall capacity by 1.4% and will consider offering staff unpaid leave.

“We anticipate 2020 will continue to present us with a highly challenging operating environment,” said Ronald Lam Siu-por, the airline’s chief customer and commercial officer.

“Advance bookings for Lunar New Year appear promising with the boost in transit passengers; however, we continue to see a significant shortfall for the period after that, especially from inbound traffic.”

The airline has been actively seeking out transit passengers to make up numbers, but while figures won’t be released until March 2020, Q2 of 2019 would be “significantly below” Q1 when the airline made HK$1.34 billion.

Peak holiday month December 2019’s statistics showed smaller declines than November’s 9%, with Cathay Pacific and sister airline Cathay Dragon flying 2.99 million passengers, a shortfall on December 2018 of 3.4%, or 111,000 travellers.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has responded by launching the Hong Kong is ON campaign, with offers on flights to the city, as well as hotel stays, dining, shopping and sites designed to tempt more tourists.  

“Hong Kong’s tourism industry has faced exceptional challenges over the past year,” commented board chairman Pang Yiu-kai, “but I have every confidence in our resilience and appeal as a world-class travel destination.”

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