HK cancels Lunar New Year parade over safety fears for protest-hit route
Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has replaced the traditional seven-day Lunar New Year parade with a four-day carnival, because of concerns that the route through a protest-hit part of Hong Kong was "too risky".
It is the first time the event – a highlight of one of the city's biggest festivals scheduled for January 25 – will not be held since its launch in 1996, according to the HKTB. In the coming new year, the tourism board is to replace it with a carnival.
"Instead of a street parade, a four-day carnival with a spectacular parade of dazzling performances by local and international performers will be held to celebrate Chinese New Year," said the spokeswoman.
The decision by the HKTB follows a series of cancellations of major events in the city, such as music festival Clockenflap and the Cyclothon, amid often-violent protests roiling the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) for nearly six months.
This winter 'too cold' for HK's tourism sector
The current economic data and expectations are alarming for the region's outlook. Stopping riots in the city has become the most fundamental condition for restoring Hong Kong's economic system and weathering the "economic winter".
According to HKTB's preliminary statistics, the number of tourists visiting the HKSAR decreased by 40 percent during the first 10 days of November year on year.
Based on the estimation, they predict that tourism economic data will continue to decline during the Christmas holiday and Chinese Lunar New Year. Inbound tours may decline by 40 percent during the Christmas period.
Hong Kong exports continue to shrink
In addition, the value of Hong Kong's overall exports fell for 12 consecutive months, down 9.2 percent in October to 348.5 billion HK dollars (44.5 billion U.S. dollars) year on year, a steeper fall from 7.3 percent in September, according to data from the Census and Statistics Department on Tuesday.
Pam Mak, president of the Hong Kong Small and Medium Enterprises Association, told SCMP she predicted exports in November and December would continue to fall since businesses usually export goods before October because of the Christmas holidays.