Hong Kong's visitor arrivals in January more than halved from a year ago as cross-border transport services were reduced significantly amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19).
The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) said on Friday that visitor arrivals stood at about 3.2 million last month, representing a daily average of 100,000, down by over 50 percent year on year.
The COVID-19 outbreak put an end to a mild recovery in visitors during the pre-Lunar New Year rush as some airlines suspended flights and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government restricted the flow of travelers between Hong Kong and the mainland to curb the spread of the new virus, the HKTB said.
Daily average arrivals once rose to 130,000 in mid-January but then plunged to 65,000. The HKTB said the figure has dropped to below 3,000 so far in February.
The slump in inbound visitors has dealt a major blow to consumption-related sectors from catering to tourism in Hong Kong and compounded the hardships of small retailers and restaurants.
Experts have warned of a further spike in the jobless rate and more closures of small businesses.