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Hong Kong hotels, eateries hardest hit amid unrest-plagued economy


Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s hotels and restaurants suffered the most last year as the economy reeled from months of violent protests and riots sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, official data showed on Monday.

Net output in the accommodation and food services plunged 23 per cent from a year ago in the fourth quarter and dropped 9 per cent for 2019 as a whole, Xinhua news agency quoted the city’s Census and Statistics Department as saying in a statement.

The declines appeared to be the largest among a wide range of service sectors that bore the major brunt of violent incidents in the second half of 2019.

The import and export, wholesale, and retail sales combined fell 8.3 per cent in the fourth quarter and 6.2 per cent in the whole year. 

The transportation, storage, postal, and courier services lost 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter and edged down 1.6 per cent in 2019.

 All the service sectors as a whole dropped 2.2 per cent in the fourth quarter and 0.3 per cent in 2019.

The statistics authority said the sharp fall in visitor arrivals, along with a global economic slowdown and trade tensions, took a heavy toll on retail business in Hong Kong last year. 

It also confirmed some preliminary figures, including a 2.9 per cent and 1.2 per cent drop in the GDP during the fourth quarter and the whole 2019, respectively.

Monday’s data also showed that the total incomes of Hong Kong residents, excluded price changes, went down 3.3 per cent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter and inched down 1.1 per cent for the whole year. 

The city has experienced months of protests sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which it does not have existing agreements, including the mainland, said a report in the South China Morning Post.

Since the protests began last June, radicals have destroyed traffic lights and set street fires, attacked police stations, vandalised MTR facilities, shops and banks, and occupied universities.

They have also attacked police officers on the front lines, hurling petrol bombs and bricks.

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