What You Need to Know about the Hong Kong Airport Protest

The commotion continued today in Hong Kong, including protestors detaining a mainland Chinese reporter. Planners and travelers flying through Hong Kong need to be aware of flight cancellations and delays, and to take safety precautions.

Cancelled flights and police-protestor standoffs made the headlines of Hong Kong newspapers this morning. Protestors at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) set up barricades yesterday to block off entrances and attempt to keep police out. Yesterday also saw the deployment of pepper spray by police as well as protestors attacking a police officer after the officer reportedly pushed a protestor.

What are the Protestors Protesting?

While part of China, Hong Kong exercises some autonomy in its government and economy, as it is a special administration region of China. This was established when the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred from the British (of which Hong Kong had been a colony for more than a century) to mainland China in 1997.

Today, there are issues between this autonomous administration region and China. Protestors are calling for the government of Hong Kong to withdraw a bill that would have allowed people to be extradited into mainland China and into its legal system, a system protestors see as undemocratic and opaque. The bill was introduced earlier this summer, protests began in early June, and by July hundreds of protestors had stormed the city’s legislature. Although the bill was suspended on June 18, protestors want it to be fully withdrawn. 

The Effects on Tourism and Travel

The move to Hong Kong International Airport was an attempt by protestors to draw wider attention to the issue, especially from those flying through the airport from mainland China. This shift is also affecting a wider international population through flight delays, limited access to the airport and worries among tourists regarding the safety of the region.

The BBC reported that tourism dropped in the second half of July and said that “the travel trade has reported that the number of forward bookings in August and September has [also] dropped significantly,” according to a spokesperson from the Hong Kong Tourism Board. This turn in tourism could impact local economies and will impact everything from room rates to flight prices in the area.

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