Hong Kong tourism in distress: restaurant,retail and hotel bosses try to reinvent themselves digital
Hong Kong Television Network’s HKTVmall is thriving and expecting an unaudited profit of at least HK$90 million (US$11.6 million) for January to June – its first time in the black, after chalking up accumulated losses of HK$1.7 billion since 2015.
Business boomed as stay-at-home Hongkongers switched to buying more online. It hired more than 260 full-timers since March, and started recruiting close to 200 more from May.
Run by entrepreneur Ricky Wong Wai-kay, the online mall is a rare bright spot in Hong Kong’s ravaged tourism, retail, and food and drink scene. Already hurt by last year’s anti-government protests, the sector has been devastated as the Covid-19 pandemic halted international air travels, keeping visitors away.
From tour agencies to hotels, shops and restaurants, 2020 is proving a struggle to reinvent their businesses, go online or risk going bust.
For more than half a million people engaged in tourism-related work, this is a year of anxiety and desperation, as many have already lost their jobs, taken pay cuts, or are staying home on unpaid leave.