Hong Kong kicked off a campaign to stimulate its nightlife as officials seek to bolster the city’s attractiveness and revive an economy battered by years of pandemic isolation.
(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong kicked off a campaign to stimulate its nightlife as officials seek to bolster the city’s attractiveness and revive an economy battered by years of pandemic isolation.
The promotion, called “Night Vibes Hong Kong,” will feature three evening bazaars at waterfront locations next to Victoria Harbour, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said at a televised event that included a neon dragon dance and performers on roller blades.
“We hope to bring families, friends, and colleagues more entertainment activities at night,” Chan said.
The campaign is the latest in a series of efforts to showcase the city and encourage consumption, which have so far fallen flat. Retail spending remains stuck in low gear, while the surge in the Hong Kong dollar against the yuan makes the city an expensive destination at a time when mainland Chinese are cutting back on consumption.
Special events will be held in some bars, clubs and attractions such as Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Simon Wong, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said before the official announcement. Shopping malls owned by major landlords including Henderson Land Development, and Sun Hung Kai Properties are expected to extend their hours of operation until midnight, he said.
The nightlife promotion, like the others before it, are just short-term fixes for an industry that’s facing bigger structural issues, said senior Natixis economist Gary Ng.
“Hong Kong’s tourism industry has improved in recent months, but it is from a low base and now stalled,” Ng said.
The result is a faltering economy. Growth is projected at 4% this year, down from an earlier median estimate of 4.6%, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Gross domestic product shrank 3.5% last year, its third annual drop since 2019, as the city’s slow pace of reopening kept visitors away and prompted an exodus of residents. These included efforts to restrict nightlife — such as shutting bars, forcing restaurants to close at 6 p.m. and heavy fines for rulebreakers. A mask mandate was only dropped this year.
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As the city reopened, the government in February launched Hello Hong Kong, where some 500,000 free airplane tickets were distributed to attract visitors to the city. That was followed by Happy Hong Kong, which included shopping vouchers and other discounts.
Despite these efforts, retail sales in July were the lowest for any month since 2011, once 2019-2022 are stripped out — when citywide protests and the pandemic suppressed spending.
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