Singapore ousts Hong Kong as Asia’s top financial center


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 world’s third – according to a new report that puts New York and London in first and second place.

Hong Kong slipped to fourth place, battered by tough COVID-19 restrictions and a talent drain, while San Francisco moved up two places to round out the top five in the Global Financial Centers Index.

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

Photo: AFP

However, it announced yesterday that it would end the mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers from Monday. Visitors must undergo polymerase chain reaction testing upon arrival and must be prohibited from visiting restaurants and bars for the first three days of stay.

Tourists who test positive upon arrival should be isolated in hotel rooms or government camps.

A summit of world bankers in November designed to restore confidence in Hong Kong secured pledges from around 20 major companies to send senior executives to an event that is expected to be bolstered by the lifting of quarantine measures.

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

Singapore, on the other hand, scrapped most of its entry requirements in April and expects to register more than 4 million visitors by the end of this year.

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

Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen all retained their places in the index’s top 10, despite crippling COVID-19 mitigation measures that effectively cut China off from the rest of the world.

Paris made a return to the report’s top 10, while Tokyo dropped to 16th place. Sydney jumped 10 places in the rankings to 13th place. Dubai and Abu Dhabi reigned supreme in the Middle East, occupying 17th and 32nd place respectively. Russian financial centers have suffered from the war in Ukraine, with Moscow down 22 places to 73 and Saint Petersburg down 17 places to 114. Barbados, Xian and Wuhan were the bottom three places 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 services professionals responding to an online questionnaire.

Additional AFP reporting

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