< PrevNext > Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Hong Kong's Chief Ignitor By Dawit Habtemariam / December 13, 2019 / Contact Reporter Share When Carrie Lam's government introduced an extradition bill in February, she ignited an explosion of protests that damaged Hong Kong's long track record as a perceived safe city to do business. The bill would have allowed the Chinese government to extradite Hong Kong citizens for trial in mainland China. Protesters saw the bill as the latest step by the Chinese government to strip Hong Kong of its historic semi-autonomy and local freedoms and demanded the bill be removed.Lam shelved the bill in June but didn't formally remove it, even as travel within, to and from the city was disrupted. In mid-August, nearly a thousand flights were canceled because of the protests. Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway repeatedly cut back service and closed stations. In its August passenger demand report, the International Air Transport Association said the flight disruptions caused "a loss of reputation and business confidence." The territory's government has increased security measures around Hong Kong International Airport, such as identity checks for passengers entering terminal buildings, according to Sebastian Liu, a global threat analyst for Healix International and HX Global.Hong Kong has seen a nosedive in travel. In July, visitor arrivals contracted by 4.8 percent year over year, then 39.1 percent in August, then 34.2 percent in September then 43.7 percent in October (the latest month numbers were available), according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. In the past few weeks, more than a dozen airlines have announced reductions in service frequency to Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Airlines is on the verge of bankruptcy.To deescalate the situation, Lam officially withdrew the bill from legislative consideration in September, but by that time the protesting had taken on a life on its own, and protesters' demands expanded to include investigation into police abuses, Lam's resignation, and other demands according to International SOS regional security director Matthew Bradley. The entire MTR network was shut down on Oct. 4 following significant damage inflicted to station facilities across the territory amid protests, according to Liu. In the territory's local elections in November, voters overwhelmingly rejected establishment and pro-China candidates in favor of pro-democracy candidates, but the protests still have not subsided.While the protests have disrupted their ability to get around, business travelers have not been targeted, according to Bradley. Still, some companies have curbed travel temporarily, he said. Business travelers who do go have had to "reprogram their activities [there] to get their business done," like choosing hotels near their offices to minimize time on the streets or avoiding protest hot spots, Bradley said. "As we look to 2020, the question becomes how much longer will these disruptions continue," Bradley said, "and will they get worse?"