With four restaurants opened in one of Hong Kong's busiest commercial streets, Wong Ching-Tuen was running a successful business of crab houses generating a monthly income of over 10 million Hong Kong dollars (almost 1.3 million U.S. dollars). Businesses took a deep dive, however, as unrest in Hong Kong continues its thirteenth week.
"Not many people are coming to eat. There aren't many tourists. And few locals come because rallies block the roads," said Wong.
Wong added that 20 percent of his customers are foreign tourists, and 40 percent are tourists from the Chinese mainland. These businesses are fleeting fast. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, July's tourists number was down 4.8 percent year-on-year, and preliminary figures showed a 30 percent drop in August. In July, tourists from Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific led the drop — over 13 percent, and mainland tourists number declined for the first time since the beginning of 2018 — down 5.5 percent.
As the fear of violent clashes between protesters and police spreads, restaurant owners including Mr. Wong have reported business losses of over 50 percent. Wong says that he is losing three million Hong Kong dollars a month (380,000 U.S. dollars). And staff who live from paycheck to paycheck are also deeply worried about the economic downturn.
"I'm afraid of losing my job. No job means no food. I have two kids, and I still have to pay rent," said Tsui Kin-Fong, a local waitress.
That fear could become a reality if protests continue. Near Wong's crab house, over five restaurants have been shut down. Wong has already laid off all his part-time workers — some 20 of them. Other restaurants in Hong Kong have to do the same to stay in business. Some are asking full-time workers to take their annual leave as the unrest continues.
Wong told CGTN that if the situation could not get better, he would have to close two or three of his restaurants.