“It’s now about survival.”
In those four words, Hong Kong-based hotelier Ovolo Group has laid bare the situation in the city state and the impact of ongoing domestic unrest, coupled with Coronavirus in neighbouring China leaves the city’s hotel industry on its knees.
In a highly charged letter to the government of Hong Kong, Ovolo Group has appealed for reconsideration as an emergency HKD$28 billion (AUD$5.43 billion) financial relief package has seen the tourism industry’s pleas for assistance effectively ignored.
According to Ovolo, tourism in Hong Kong has fallen 97% year-on-year to around 3,000 visitors from more than 90,000 overnight guests seen when compared to figures twelve months ago. Hotel occupancy levels have fallen to around 20% on average, with many properties in the teens and single-digit figures. The letter states that tourism as an industry contributes 4% to the Hong Kong GDP and employs 7% of the resident population.
The letter paints a mood of incredulousness and disbelief as recent city-wide blueprints aimed at developing Hong Kong into “a world-class destination” through tourism, which included the release last year of land for four new hotel projects which would have added nearly 3,000 new rooms.
“The significance of tourism to Hong Kong is certainly there in the thought planning, so begs me to question why it hasn’t been integral to the relief measures proposed?” the letter reads.
“We are seeing hotels reducing operations and even closing their doors, restaurants failing, redundancies across the board and unpaid leave for employees. The costs of maintaining operations now out way [sic] the basic commitments to banks and landlords for the premises in which they reside, we’ve implored our suppliers and business partners to support when and where they can, yet our pleas fall on deaf ears at a legislative level,” Ovolo Group continues.
The company says it and the city’s other hoteliers have been “left to fend for ourselves”.
“We are doing our part supporting our employees and continuing to invest in trade and media activities so when these stormy days pass, Hong Kong’s diverse array of accommodation providers will still be on the map.
“Sustainability was a priority in your eyes, please heed the call from a sector as we all struggle to endure, before it’s too late.”