Since June 9th, 2019, protests have been a huge issue in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government proposed a bill that would allow China to extradite fugitives to the mainland – which led to many of Hong Kong’s citizens coming together to protest. The government says it’s still open to tourists, but is traveling to Hong Kong in the current situation worth the risk?
Hong Kong Protests: What You Need to Know
The ongoing protests in Hong Kong have been active for almost five months, and don’t seem to be slowing down. When the protests first started on June 9th, 2019, an estimated one million people took part in a peaceful protest march to oppose a bill that would allow the Hong Kong government to extradite criminals to mainland China.
Since then, protests have become more high-risk. Police seem to be quicker in using water cannons, tear gas, and shooting rubber bullets to try to stop the protests. This has led to retaliation with some protesters throwing Molotov cocktails and bricks, among other items.
Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong?
Even though the protests are increasing in frequency and becoming more chaotic, they are actually quite easy to avoid. Protests normally take place on weekends or holidays, and are publicized in advance during local broadcasts, online, or in police alerts. Keeping an eye on these news outlets can help to make sure you avoid any protests while on your trip. If you have travel plans to Hong Kong, be aware of your surroundings and follow along with protest updates to make your trip as safe as possible.
Here are some sites and apps that can help you track the status of ongoing/possible protests: MTR Mobile, CitybusNWFB and the Hong Kong International Airport website.
How will this affect my travel plans to Hong Kong?
Numerous protests took place at the Hong Kong International Airport over the past few months, which led to Asia’s fourth busiest airport (more than 74 million passengers traveled to and from the airport in 2018) to shut down. This led to many flights being canceled, and a lot of stranded passengers.
Thankfully, Hong Kong International Airport now requires either a printed itinerary or a boarding pass to enter the airport. Since this new rule was put into place, there hasn’t been another shutdown. Although it’s recommended that travelers arrive earlier than normal.
If you plan on traveling by train or bus while in Hong Kong, there’s some important information you should know. When protests do arise, authorities have been known to shut down train stations, and buses must deal with crowds of protesters before being able to reroute. Give yourself extra time while traveling around Hong Kong – especially on the weekend or during holidays.
How does this affect local attractions, hotels, and restaurants?
Usually at Hong Kong Disneyland, you can expect to wait in queue lines for 30 minutes or longer. Now, the most you’ll likely wait for any attraction is 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile, Hong Kong hotel occupancy hit an all-time August low at just 63.9%, and Victoria Peak (a local destination featuring restaurants with incredible views) sits empty most nights.
Overall, any local attractions, hotels, or restaurants you want to visit on your trip will not be much different than before the protests started. Many of Hong Kong’s popular attractions are still open and ready for tourists to visit, you just might notice that there are fewer people than normal.
Obtaining an expedited visa or passport with Swift
Upcoming travel plans? We’d be happy to help! Wherever you’re going, visit us here to get started on obtaining your expedited visa or passport.