Hong Kong Cancels Its Famed New Year's Eve Fireworks Display over Protest Worries
Hong Kong's usual New Year's Eve fireworks show is typically one to behold. Held atop the city's iconic backdrop, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the waterfront to view it each year.
This year, however, it has been called off amidst fears of protests.
For six months now the city has had regular protests, and for security reasons, Hong Kong's Tourism Board declared on Wednesday it would cancel this year's fireworks display.
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The second major event in the city to be halted
The city's New Year's Eve fireworks show started back in 2007, and this is the first time since it began that it's been canceled.
Expect a smaller scale NYE fireworks celebration to welcome 2020. Organisers say safety is top priority and promise enhanced light show and fireworks launched from skyscrapers rather than harbour barge. https://t.co/oKxESl9sVE— Hong Kong Traveller (@HKTravellers) December 18, 2019
Instead, a laser light show will be put on a show along the skyline.
In October this year, the city also decided to call off its usual fireworks display for the anniversary of the People's Republic of China's. It marked its 70th anniversary, but with the city's ongoing protests, Hong Kong decided it would be safer to cancel the show.
Chairman of the Tourism Board, Pang Yiu-kai, told the South China Morning Post that "Public safety is our top priority as the fireworks can attract huge crowds gathering around the harbor."
Calling the display off is a big deal given there are usually around 300,000 revelers who gather to watch the show each year.
It may just be a firework. But it’s also a symbol.https://t.co/UzWaCFYlts— Swiss in HongKong ?? (@SwissInHKG) December 18, 2019
This decision is just one of dozens this year that the city has taken due to the protests. The territory's largest musical festival, Clockenflap, a big trail walking race, the Hong Kong Tennis Open, and a number of concerts have all been called off as well.
The anti-government protests, which flared up in retaliation to a controversial extradition bill, began in June this year. The city is going through its first recession in a decade, and tourism has taken a big hit, with tourist figures dropping by 60%.