Shops selling traditional medicines and foods in Hong Kong and Sydney say business from Chinese tourists is the poorest in years. Julie Noce reports.
Bottles of Essence of Kangaroo are rearranged on a shelf in Sydney. Noah's Trading Company is usually bustling with customers during the Lunar New Year holiday, but this year the aisles are empty. Similar scenes are playing out in traditional Chinese medicine shops here in Hong Kong's old Sheung Wan district. Stores selling products like dried fish, shark's fin and bird's nest usually make good money from mainland Chinese tourists. But with the weakest Chinese economy in 25 years, shop owners are struggling. It's even worse than the 2008 financial crisis, this shopowner said. This year is really bad. The number of Chinese outbound tourists reached a record 109 million last year. The China National Tourism Administration forecast last December a per capita spending growth of just 1.5 percent, compared with 16.5 percent the previous year.