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Typhoon derails new Hong Kong night economy plan

A new government policy which aims to boost Hong Kong’s nightlife through weekly after-dark bazaars has hit a roadblock as Typhoon Koinu looms.

Hong Kong’s government has launched a new ‘Night Vibes Hong Kong’ campaign, which will see night markets and bazaars staged every weekend throughout October and November on the city’s waterfront.

The aim is to stimulate the city’s night time economy through food and drink stalls, live music, film screenings and other activities. Around 100,000 people are said to have taken part in the bazaars already.

However, the initiative runs the risk of falling flat in just its second week due to an approaching storm that could force events to be shortened or cancelled.

Tyhoon Koinu is expected to pass within 310 miles of Hong Kong today, with the city likely to see strong winds and rain over the weekend.

The imminent typhoon has come as a blow to organisers of Hong Kong’s new night bazaars, introduced as weekly fixtures to revitalise the city’s waterfront areas.

According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong authorities sent an email to vendors yesterday warning that electricity to the event would be cut off if a ‘Number 3’ warning signal was sounded with regards to the typhoon, and marquees taken down.

Hong Kong is currently on a ‘Number 1’ standby warning.

“Stall owners are advised to pay attention to the Observatory’s reports and take corresponding measures,” read the email.

Some vendors have declined to take part due to the unpredictable weather.

“We are all very disappointed and hope that the typhoon will not reach Hong Kong as the momentum from last weekend was very good,” said David Poon, organiser of the night bazaars at Kennedy Town. Poon added that vendors had earned “30% to 40% more than expected” from the night bazaars that have taken place so far.

On the back of the success of the first phase of bazaars, organisers saw a rush in applications from stall holders wanting to take part. Poon said he has received more than 500 applications for the second phase of the bazaar “when we only have 70 stalls available”.

“If we can make these markets permanent and turn them into a tourist attraction then we can use them to promote Hong Kong brands to tourists, which I think is more meaningful,” Poon said.

Despite initial hiccoughs, including climate-related, Michael Wong, deputy finance secretary for Hong Kong, insisted that the new Night Vibes campaign was not a “zero-sum game”.

Speaking on the RTHK radio programme Wong said the initiative will attract not only local people but also mainland residents to come and spend money.

He added that it would help local businesses, rather than harm them.

“We do not want to compete with existing restaurants or shops for business, but we hope to attract more people to go out by organising shows and activities,” he said.

According to Wong, the success of the campaign will be assessed on its “social impact”, rather than “quantifying the economic benefits”.

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