HONG KONG - Hong Kong hoteliers are counting occupancy figures not in the usual way – as a percentage of total rooms – but in the small number of rooms occupied, such is the fall-off in demand due to the impact of Covid-19 on the city.
Those hotels that are still looking at percentages are recording single digits - far worse than experienced during the SARS outbreak of 2003.
The Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, which has 86 members running about 200 hotels and employing some 80,000 workers, is calling on the Hong Kong government to recognise the plight of the hospitality industry and introduce tax breaks and other incentives in its Budget next week.
The federation includes members of global hoteliers such as Hyatt, J.W. Marriott, Shangri-La, Regal, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton and Peninsula.
Federation executive director Michael Li Hon-shing, quoted by SCMP, said the hospitality sector was at the epicentre of Hong Kong’s tourism slump but had been left out of the government’s relief measures, worth HK$28 billion (US$3.6 billion), announced recently to deal with the outbreak.
Mr Li said many full-time hotel staff were taking no-pay leave and he “would not be surprised” to see businesses closing down unless the situation with Covid-19 improved quickly.
Hong Kong tourist arrival figures slowed to a daily average of 3,000 in the middle of February, from a daily average of 100,000 last month and 200,000 in February last year.