Hong Kong is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Usually in September and October Hong Kong is crowded by tourists who visit to watch various events. Some scheduled events are Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Carnivals 13-22 September, Hong Kong International Jazz Festival on 22 September, London Symphony Orchestra Concerts 22-25 September, and Hong Kong Disneyland Haunted Halloween Celebrations 12 September-31 October
But the uncertain situation in the city caused many events to be cancelled by the organizers. One of Hong Kong’s most prestigious sporting tournaments on Friday became the latest victim of the huge protests. The WTA Hong Kong Tennis Open originally will take place on October 5-13.
Organizers of the WTA Hong Kong Open women’s tennis tournament said they were postponing next month’s competition because of the “present situation” after months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests.
Hong Kong’s protests were triggered by alarm over a controversial bill to allow extraditions to Mainland China. Millions of people have taken part in demonstrations over the last three months, which have morphed into calls for democracy and complaints against the erosion of freedoms under Beijing’s rule.
Street battles between riot police and small groups of hardcore protesters have become a weekly occurrence, hammering the already struggling economy and undermining the city’s reputation for stability.
In recent weeks, a growing number of stars have cancelled or postponed events, from prominent K-Pop acts such as Daniel Kang and GOT7 to the popular US-based comedian from South Africa, Trevor Noah.
A large global wellness summit also moved its location to Singapore because of the unrest.
Producers behind the award-winning musical Matilda — based on the children’s novel by Roald Dahl announced the cancellation of the planned Matilda The Musical show scheduled for September 20 to October 2.
The theatre where the production was meant to take place is near the city’s police headquarters, which has become a frequent flashpoint between protesters and the authorities.
“Sadly the 14 weeks of civil unrest in Hong Kong have decimated ticket sales, and more importantly we cannot guarantee the safety and wellbeing of our international company, which comprises a large number of young children,” said James Cundall, the CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, which was bringing the show to Hong Kong.
The cancellations are compounding misery for the city’s tourism sector that has been battered by the protests.
On-year tourist arrivals fell by 40 percent in August, with hotel occupancy rates down by around half, causing knock-on impacts on the retail and dining sectors.
Earlier this week Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific reported an 11 percent yearly drop in passengers for August, during which two occupations of the airport caused hundreds of flight cancellations.
The city’s economy was already struggling through weak global demand and the year-long trade war between Washington and Beijing.
Seasonally adjusted economic growth dropped by 0.4 percent in the second quarter, most of which fell before the pro-democracy rallies began.
The protest movement — which is leaderless and largely organizes online — has said inflicting economic damage is the only way to pressure the city’s leaders after years of peaceful rallies failed to win concessions from Beijing.
Under an agreement signed with Britain ahead of the city’s 1997 handover to China, the semi-autonomous region was permitted to retain its unique freedom for 50 years. Hong Kong has enjoyed protected freedom of speech, press and assembly, as determined when Britain returned the city to China in a model of governance called “one country, two systems.”
But democracy activists accuse Beijing of reneging on those promises by ramping up political control over the semi-autonomous territory.
After weeks of taking a hard line, city leader Carrie Lam made the surprise move last week to fully scrap the loathed extradition law — but the gesture was dismissed by protesters as too little, too late.
Activists and analysts say the movement will only end when some of the other key demands are met such as an inquiry into the police, an amnesty for the nearly 1,400 people arrested and universal suffrage.