Hong Kong — The Impact of Major Protests on Business

Hong Kong is now in its 108th day of protests, experiencing a period of turmoil as growing tensions among protestors, police, and politicians exacerbate. As the protests have escalated and US-Chinese trade tensions built over the summer months, retail sales have declined and consumer spending has decreased.

To understand the effects on the economy, both on a macro and business-specific level, Orbital Insight leveraged its own geospatial platform, Orbital Insight GO. By analyzing several areas of interest throughout Hong Kong, varying from border crossings, neighborhoods, retail districts, theme parks, and landmarks, we were able to identify localized trends representing key sectors.


Orbital Insight GO ingests, interprets, and analyzes multiple sources of geospatial data—including satellite, vessel tracking (AIS), and millions of global IoT devices. This project simply involved applying our normalized geolocation algorithm, available directly in GO, and applying it across 25 specified areas of interest (AOIs) including the airport, Shenzhen border region, Hong Kong Ocean Park, the ferry terminal, and more.

Orbital Insight GO Hong Kong
Above: Orbital Insight GO has defined 25 areas of interest to monitor for ongoing change across Hong Kong


Orbital Insight’s GO platform showed a steep traffic decline in visitation to Hong Kong’s Disneyland, one of the businesses most negatively impacted by the protests, as early as the first week of July.

The visualized results, exported from GO, allow for Excel comparisons to conduct trend analysis and anomaly detection. You can see below that Orbital Insight’s foot traffic index dropped sharply in early July at the theme park and continued to decline in August and September, a meaningful change when compared to the same period in 2018.

Orbital Insight GO Hong Kong Disneyland
Above: Orbital Insight GO analysis reveals a decline in traffic as early as the first week of July 2019.


Given the relationship between hospitality and tourism, it’s not surprising that the GO project yielded similar results for the upscale Hong Kong Peninsula hotel.

Orbital Insight GO Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel
Above: Orbital Insight GO analysis reveals a significant traffic decline in customer visitation at the Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel


As a control AOI for this study, we examined a location where we would not expect significant retail revenue decline and measured traffic volumes at the University of Hong Kong where the academic year has recently begun.

Orbital Insight GO University of Hong Kong
Above: Orbital Insight GO analysis reveals an expected return of students to the University of Hong Kong.


As the Hong Kong protests continue, our monitoring projects will continue to track the events in near-real-time and help produce greater clarity into specific business impact and greater economic consequences.