Earnings of HK tourism employees plummet amid protests

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The average income of tourism employees in Hong Kong has slumped by nearly 80 percent year-on-year over the past two months, while more than 10 percent of tourism employees had zero income, a joint survey by three tourism trade unions in the city found.

The results of the survey, which was conducted in early August, were released on Monday. A total of 1,012 workers in Hong Kong's tourism sector completed the survey questionnaire.

Respondents said that compared with the same period last year, on average, the number of tour groups they received dropped more than 70 percent and their earnings were down by about 75 percent since this June. Among them, 40 percent saw a fall of more than 90 percent in income and more than 10 percent had no income at all.

More than 90 percent of the respondents said they were worried about the prospects of Hong Kong tourism in the next year.

Wong Ka-ngai, chairman of the Hong Kong Tour Guides General Union, said that the tourism sector saw positive data in the first half of 2019, but recent protests sent it into deep recession during the July-August period, which traditionally is the high tourist season.

A tour guide used to receive 12 to 15 tour groups per month on average in July and August in previous years. But this year, the protests led to mass cancellations by tour groups from the Chinese mainland, Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States, Wong said. Many tour guides received no groups in August, he said.

The city's tourism sector is facing a recession worse than that during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in 2003, said Lau Chun-yuen, chairman of the Hong Kong Certified Tour Escort Association.

Many tourism employees would use revenues earned in the high season to help get through the off-season. Lau fears that if the situation further deteriorates, the work and life of tourism employees will be affected, which may cause a wave of employee outflow in the industry.

At about 4 pm on Monday, Airport Authority Hong Kong canceled the day's remaining flights in and out of Hong Kong after radical protesters "seriously disrupted" operations at Hong Kong International Airport, stranding hundreds of passengers from around the world.

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