It was Friday, sunny, and at the end of summer -- all the perfect components for a day at Disneyland. The theme park should have been packed.
Instead, a recent visit to Hong Kong's very own "Magic Kingdom" saw empty lines and sparsely populated streets, a far cry from its usual crammed crowds.
Lines for the rides, which usually take upward of half an hour's wait, were short and quick -- if there were any lines at all. The rides themselves were nowhere near full capacity -- at the Mad Hatter Tea Cups ride, most of the giant pastel teacups spun emptily to the cheerful music. At lunchtime, visitors had their pick of empty tables.
It was a sad scene, and it's been like that most of the summer as Disneyland became the latest casualty of the Hong Kong protests.
The pro-democracy protests have been raging since June, and have hit Hong Kong's economy hard. The tourism, retail and hotel industries are all "suffering," said Paul Chan, Hong Kong's financial secretary, in a blog post on September 8.
In his comments online, Chan said tourist arrivals only dipped slightly in July, with a 5% decrease from the same time last year -- but they absolutely plummeted in August by 40%.
The hotel sector is also suffering, said Chan -- some have seen occupancy rates halved, and room rates have fallen 40-70%. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong International Airport saw 12.4% fewer passengers in August compared to the same time last year.
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