Hong Kong hoteliers issue SOS as plunging rates reach US$9 a night and occupancy hits 20 per cent amid protests

By Lam Ka-sing kasing.lam@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/property/hong-kong-china/article/3030089/hong-kong-hoteliers-issue-sos-plunging-rates-touch-us9?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | September 26, 2019 10:38 AM SGT
Hong Kong hotel operators have called on the government to waive rents and even allow properties to offer empty rooms on long-term leases, or for sale, as a way of survival amid a steep decline in occupancy and rates brought on by 16 weeks of protests in the city.
At a new low of HK$71 (US$9.06) a night, some hotels are now cheaper than subdivided flats in the city. Winland 800 Hotel in protest-hit Tsing Yi, is offering that rate on weekdays through the Wing On Travel website. It represents a decline of 65.7 per cent from its lowest rate of HK$207 a night in March 2018.
"Certainly, this year has been far more challenging than any other time for any industry," said Girish Jhunjhnuwala, founder and chief executive of Ovolo Group, who has called for help for the local hospitality industry "given the current economic downturn", which has hit been "felt across all corners of the city".
Jhunjhnuwala said the tourism industry had been hit hardest, and that the government should waive rents and rates for at least a year, set up a short-term fund to help the hotel industry, give visitors incentives, such as special rates, to stop over in Hong Kong for a day or two, and instruct banks to waive interest on loans borrowed by hotels.
Girish Jhunjhnuwala, founder and chief executive of Ovolo Group, has called for help for the local hospitality industry. Photo: Xiaomei Chen alt=Girish Jhunjhnuwala, founder and chief executive of Ovolo Group, has called for help for the local hospitality industry. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
Jhunjhnuwala, whose company employs more than 190 people in Hong Kong, said frontline staff might unfortunately face reduced hours, reduced wages or, in some cases, even redundancies.
The government should relax rules so that converted industrial buildings and wasted hotels in industrial areas that are battered by a prolonged decline in cheap mainland Chinese package tours can be leased, or...