Monday, 19 February 2018

Cries for Sympathy Leave Bad Taste

This year there weren't fireworks to mark the start of the Year of the Dog
The Year of the Dog wasn't as boisterous this time with the cancellation of the fireworks on the second day of the new year.

It was the seventh day after 19 people died and 66 injured in a horrific bus crash in Tai Po and in Chinese tradition it is believed on that day the souls of the dead visit their loved ones for one last time.

Many restaurants like this one capitalize on the fireworks
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor made the right decision out of respect for the victims and their families, but that decision wasn't easy to make -- as expected local businesses were financially hit by the fireworks cancellation.

"On the surface, it seems like it would not be a big deal to cancel [the fireworks], but there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that travel agencies have to take care of... there are bound to be losses," tourism sector legislator Yiu Si-wing said on a radio show on Saturday.

Yiu added restaurants with a view of Victoria Harbour, where the fireworks are usually held, would be affected the most. "According to my understanding, one-third of the customers had backed out of their reservations," he said.

During the same radio program, Travel Industry Council chairman Jason Wong Chun-tat suggested the government should give priority to the affected industries if the government was going to organise any activities in the future.

Jason Wong hopes travel and restaurants get help in the future
Yes fireworks are a big deal in the city -- hundreds of thousands of people turn up on both sides of Victoria Harbour to get a good spot to watch them. Some make reservations at restaurants with a view, prepared to pay a bomb for their vantage point.

However with the cancellation of the pyrotechnic show, restaurants probably lost out the most, having ordered a lot of fresh (and expensive) ingredients beforehand and with many customers cancelling -- perhaps a bit to easily -- they took a big hit.

But these businesses were capitalizing on an event they didn't have to pay for in the first place. They would still have business (probably not at prices as jacked up) anyway because of the view.

Yiu says there are losses in the restaurant industry
More importantly, can we have some respect for the dead? For these legislators to hint there should be sympathy for the tourism and restaurant sectors is too much. Lives were lost -- can you put a price on that?

This also demonstrates how tough things are in the restaurant and tourism sectors to make a buck -- with rents sky high, customers are really paying the rent than enjoying good food and service at a decent price.

Many establishments are just trying to keep their heads above water these days as 2018 is going to be another challenging financial year.

The legislators were also probably hoping they could get the sympathy of Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po ahead of the upcoming budget speech at the end of the month. But he seems pretty tight lipped -- about everything.

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