People stand along the pier next to the Merlion statue in Singapore on August 16, 2021.Photo: AFP

HK RESTRICTIONS EASED: Lifting quarantine for travelers on Monday will come too late after Singapore eased measures in April and will likely attract 4 million visitors this year


Singapore has overtaken Hong Kong to become Asia's top financial center — and the third in the world — according to a new report that puts New York and London in the first and second spots.

Hong Kong slipped to fourth place, battered by strict COVID-19 restrictions and an exodus of talent, while San Francisco moved up two spots to round out the Global Financial Centres Index's top five.

Hong Kong has struggled to revive its role as a global finance hub as it followed China's lead in keeping COVID-19 cases to a minimum.

However, it announced yesterday that it would end mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers starting on Monday. Visitors must undergo polymerase chain reaction tests on arrival and are to be restricted from visiting restaurants and bars for the first three days of stay.

Tourists who test positive on arrival are to be isolated in hotel rooms or at government camps.

A November summit of global bankers, designed to restore confidence in Hong Kong, has secured pledges from about 20 leading firms to send top executives to an event that should be bolstered by the lifting of quarantine measures.

However, a sudden flurry of mass tourism is unlikely to appear soon. Many global airlines have reduced routes or stopped flying to Hong Kong over the past two years.

Singapore, on the other hand, removed most of its entry requirements in April, and is expecting to record more than 4 million visitors by the end of this year.

A slate of high-profile events including the Milken Institute Asia Summit, the Forbes Global CEO Conference and a Grand Prix are certain to help raise Singapore's profile as a travel destination.

Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen all maintained spots in the index's top 10, in spite of crippling COVID-19 mitigation measures that have effectively cut off China from the rest of the world.

Paris made a return to the report's top 10, while Tokyo tumbled to 16th place. Sydney leapt 10 spots up the ranks to No. 13. Dubai and Abu Dhabi reigned supreme in the Middle East, sitting in 17th and 32nd place respectively. Russian financial centers suffered as a result of the war in Ukraine, with Moscow down 22 places to 73, and St Petersburg falling 17 places to 114. Barbados, Xian and Wuhan were the bottom three locations on the list.

The index, compiled by think tanks Z/Yen Partners and the China Development Institute, ranks 119 financial centers and uses data collected from thousands of financial service professionals responding to an online questionnaire.

Additional reporting by AFP

News source: TAIPEI TIMES