Months of long protest has caused a major airline conference, co-hosted by Cathay Pacific Airways, to be pulled. This is just the latest of many events that have been cancelled as unrest continues to mount in the city.
Everything from exhibitions to sports tournaments to fireworks displays have been shut down. Organisers have cited concerns regarding safety to be the chief reason as to why events are being cancelled. The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines joined the party exodus Wednesday, when it aborted a gathering of executives planned for Hong Kong next week.
“This was a very difficult decision, given our commitment to organise this important industry event, but reflects the unpredictability of the situation in Hong Kong,” AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman and Cathay Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang wrote in a joint statement.
October saw the cancellation of the city’s annual 1 October fireworks display, which was an extra sensitive issue this year in particular, as it marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. The PGA axed the Hong Kong Tennis Open as well.
Despite being months away, the much anticipated Formula E-Prix race weekend due to take place on the central harbourfront at the end of February, was also cancelled according to reports. That is about a month before the biggest event on Hong Kong’s sporting calendar: the Hong Kong 7s, a raucous rugby tournament that attracts big-spending fans from around the world. The ticket ballot for the 7s is due to open this weekend, organizers said.
“The tournament is still five months from kick-off, but we are monitoring the situation and are in close communication with all relevant stakeholders, and our preparations are proceeding apace,” Hong Kong Rugby Union CEO Robbie McRobbie said.
Fortunately, not all the well-known events have been cancelled. Hong Kong’s most high-profile annual music festival, Clockenflap, is showing no sign of being under threat.
Apart from a handful of events, cancellations continue to pile up. The scrapping of so many events is a further burden on the city’s tourism industry. Numbers have experienced a sharp dive since the start of the protests, especially from mainland China, who typically make up for the bulk of arrivals. Fear of escalating protests have also driven away foreign tourists .
Retail sales in Hong Kong have also reported significant losses. The government announced incentives to provide relief for the tourism industry, including handing out about HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) to travel agencies. However, the continued loss of public and corporate events and the rush of violence is fueling concern that Hong Kong’s situation is set to worsen.