Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong now?
FROM historic landmarks dotted around the city to a skyline filled with shiny skyscrapers, to a rich culture which dates back centuries and an abundance of entertainment to keep you busy, Hong Kong boasts just the right mix of chaos and charm.
It is the one thing that’s constant and consistent about the part-peninsula, part-island territory.
Whether you are a culture-seeker, history-enthusiast, a shopaholic, adventurer, or a foodie, you’ll be pleased to find that this vibrant cosmopolitan city is densely packed with all you desire.
Hong Kong is steeped in history, with a unique identity of its own, lovingly known as the Hongkongese culture. Its diversity is stemmed from its Cantonese background which compliments its British colonial past.
Its diversity can also be tasted in its host of spectacular cuisines, from yummy cheap street-side eats to hole-in-the-wall dim sum restaurants, as well as top-rated international fare. It’s no wonder they say you should always visit Hong Kong with an empty stomach.
To top it all off, its shopping options are truly aplenty. A retail haven, it boasts massive shopping malls offering luxury brands, sprawling markets bursting at seams with knick-knacks, and the occasional stand-alone store selling handicrafts and collectibles.
In 2017, the city received about 58.5 million visitor arrivals, with total tourism expenditure associated with inbound tourism reaching HKD296.7 billion (US$37.8 billion). But recently, the streets of Hong Kong has been marred by a series of anti-government protests, leaving a dent in the destination’s tourism.
The world watched as Hong Kong’s worst political crisis unfolded as its people demonstrated their dissatisfaction towards a now-suspended extradition bill. It started with thousands of protestors marching the streets, calling for chief executive Carrie Lam to step down, before advancing to violent clashes between the police and protesters.
The demonstrations also saw the defacement of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) and China’s main representative office. In the thick of international attention, the protests morphed into demands for greater democracy and even keeping Chinese tourists out of Hong Kong.
Happening right now: sit-in protest organized by aviation workers at the Hong Kong International Airport’s arrivals hall.
Protest signs include “tourist warning: the Hong Kong government deploys excessive violence” and “picking up: conscience, HK726” pic.twitter.com/095NaSkbiZ
— Elaine Yu (@yuenok) July 26, 2019
Last week, demonstrators flocked the arrival hall of Hong Kong airport, one of Asia’s busiest, to spread their opposition to the controversial extradition bill, holding up signs calling on the government to withdraw the bill completely and chanting “Free Hong Kong”.
Signs such as “Dear Travellers: Hong Kong is down for maintenance. We’re trying our best to get it back up. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused” and “‘Welcome to Hong Kong, stay safe” were spotted in the crowd, acknowledging the fact that foreigners visiting the city may be affected by the turmoil.
In light of the ongoing protests, countries including Singapore, Canada, Japan, and South Korea have issued travel advisories to Hong Kong. That having said, for those who are unable to avoid traveling to the city, there are a handful of ways to stay safe.
Monitor local news developments at all times for information on protests. Stay a healthy distance away from large public gathering in order to not get swept up by the crowd. Additionally, keep a close watch of the Hong Kong Police Force’s Twitter updates.
And finally, always stay in touch with your family, friends, and loved ones. Give them all the information they need on your Hong Kong travel plans such as flight details, accommodation, and itinerary, and keep them updated on the daily.