A lawmaker has proposed setting up a free wifi service at the Ladies’ Market area to attract tourists as merchants and hawkers in the Yau Tsim Mong district complained that business had gone down since the Mong Kok unrest in February.

Representatives of merchants and hawkers in the area – which includes Tong Choi Street, Temple Street, Ap Liu Street and more – said at a press conference on Monday that they believe their business was affected by anti-parallel trading protests, as well as the unrest that broke out in Mong Kong during Chinese New Year over the government’s removal of street hawkers.

Ladies’ Market. Photo: Wikicommons.

According to the representatives, tourists are worried about whether the area is safe, RTHK reported.

“Our business has fallen by 50 percent or more. [Some hawkers] now open their stalls late and close early, or sometimes they will not even set up stall. A lot of us have been forced to find temporary part-time work to make ends meet,” Tung Choi Street Merchants & Hawkers Association Chairman Tam Chor-kin said.

Mong Kok riots. Photo: HKFP.

Pro-Beijing DAB lawmaker Ann Chiang Lai-wan said news of Hongkongers kicking the luggage of tourists and the death of a mainlander during a forced shopping trip in Hong Kong had gone viral on the internet in China, which deterred tourists from coming to the city.

DAB’s Ann Chiang. Photo: RTHK.

“This affects not only the parallel traders, but also tourists who plan to have fun in Hong Kong… those who really want to spend money here, they won’t come anymore, and it’s very worrying,” she said.

Chiang suggested that the government promote the characteristics of street stalls and help hawkers to continue operating their businesses. She also proposed revitalising streets by setting up free wifi services and introducing food trucks.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.