HomeLatestHong Kong Tourism Struggling as COVID Measures Remain in Place

Hong Kong Tourism Struggling as COVID Measures Remain in Place

BANGKOK, THAILAND – Ongoing pandemic restrictions have didn’t curb the unfold of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, say consultants, as town struggles to regain its footing within the vacationer trade.

The metropolis has lengthy been considered an open vacation spot for vacationers from overseas, however with strictly enforced restrictions in place for practically three years, Hong Kong stays closed to many worldwide guests.

And those that make their residing from vacationer {dollars} say the continued insurance policies are dangerous for enterprise.

Ashley Yue, a meals tour information at Hong Kong Food Crawlers, noticed her bookings enhance in 2018 after her excursions had been featured in British TV sequence ‘Travel Man: 48 Hours in Hong Kong.’

Since the pandemic, she acknowledges having to juggle different jobs.

‘I obtained two workplace jobs because the pandemic, and I’ve been busking on the aspect and selecting up freelance right here and there to make ends meet. I’m solely doing personal excursions lately and I will not be opening up my group excursions anytime quickly as a result of there’s simply not sufficient vacationers, and it is not well worth the effort,’ she stated.

FILE – A Sampan boat, heart, takes passengers in Ap Lei Chau in Hong Kong, Nov. 21, 2022. Tourism in Hong Kong has remained low compared to earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Rory Mackay, his journey tour firm Wild Hong Kong has needed to restructure, and he has since moved to New Zealand.

‘Wild Hong Kong has survived however has not thrived. We have needed to be adaptable and proceed to shift our level of focus because the COVID pandemic restrictions endured yr on yr in Hong Kong. Overseas vacationers are nonetheless not coming in regardless of lodge quarantine now lastly being dropped. So, though tourism could be nice to have once more, we’re not holding our breath,’ he informed VOA.

Hong Kong referred to as for curfews, vaccination passes and bans on group gatherings from way back to early 2020. The metropolis even mirrored Beijing’s ‘zero-COVID’ method to the illness however deserted that technique earlier this yr for its inhabitants of seven million.

0+3 scheme

In September, Hong Kong dropped quarantine necessities for abroad arrivals, implementing its present ‘0+3’ scheme, wherein all worldwide arrivals should monitor their well being for 3 days. During this time, they’re prohibited from getting into public venues. After this, arrivals are free to maneuver about Hong Kong, however should put on face masks.

FILE - People are seen at the West Kowloon Cultural district overlooking Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, Oct. 27, 2022. FILE – People are seen on the West Kowloon Cultural district overlooking Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, Oct. 27, 2022.

Respiratory illness skilled Dr. Leung Chi-Chiu informed VOA that the restrictions make little distinction to curbing the an infection in Hong Kong.

‘The imported circumstances solely account for lower than 10% of each day circumstances in Hong Kong. The 0+3 association is not any completely different from 0+0 in its means to curb leakage of immune variants into our neighborhood,’ he stated.

‘0+0’ refers to zero quarantine days.

Hong Kong not too long ago recorded 9,219 COVID circumstances in a single day, its highest quantity in additional than two months.

An enhance in coronavirus infections accountable for COVID-19 has been blamed on the extremely transmissible omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5; nonetheless, consultants say the variety of circumstances is already happening.

‘As the present rebound is easing, l don’t see any have to tighten up the social distancing measures at this stage. Hong Kong must revive its economic system and aggressive edge by reopening to the world,’ Leung added.

Tours and journey brokers

The Hong Kong authorities introduced earlier this month that tour teams would be capable of go to main points of interest throughout the three days of self-health monitoring.

Hong Kong journey brokers, nonetheless, say that town’s ongoing pandemic restrictions are nonetheless discouraging worldwide guests, the South China Morning Post studies.

Last week, a Thai tour group’s four-day tour was overshadowed by the restrictions that noticed them eat packed lunches in inns for the primary three days, The Bangkok Post reported.

FILE - Travelers queue up for shuttle bus to quarantine hotels at the Hong Kong International Airport, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Hong Kong, Aug. 1, 2022. FILE – Travelers queue up for shuttle bus to quarantine inns on the Hong Kong International Airport, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Hong Kong, Aug. 1, 2022.

Gary Bowerman, a tourism analyst primarily based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, says that partial reopenings have confirmed unsuccessful within the area.

‘Thailand and Japan are good examples – it is solely when vacationers really feel that confidence in reopening is being demonstrated by the vacation spot itself, that they really feel snug visiting for tourism. This is very highlighted now that the majority of Asia has absolutely reopened, so there are lots of different decisions of locations which can be simpler to go to,’ he informed VOA.

Hong Kong tourism board statistics

This yr, arrivals into Hong Kong have remained low compared to earlier than the pandemic, with solely 249,699 guests up till September.

The metropolis loved a powerful yr for tourism in 2018, with over 65 million arrivals. But customer arrivals dropped by 10 million in 2019 throughout widespread anti-government protests wherein demonstrators clashed with police.

Bowerman predicts that subsequent yr, Hong Kong will goal to bolster its vacationer numbers from neighboring markets.

‘Hong Kong depends closely on tourism from mainland China – which accounted for 78% of its guests in 2018, so it could want China to reopen the border for any vital uplift to happen. Two of its prime 10 customer markets, Japan and Taiwan, solely not too long ago reopened, so the [Hong Kong Tourism Board] will attempt to leverage these markets in 2023, in addition to South Korea and Southeast Asian markets like Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines.’

The Hong Kong Tourism Board additionally introduced in October it can give away 500,000 free airline tickets as quickly as all restrictions have been lifted.

Some commentators have questioned whether or not that is the treatment to revive Hong Kong’s struggling vacationer trade.

But Bowerman expects the airline supply will turn into fashionable.

‘It is a really fascinating advertising technique, and garnered large international curiosity when it was introduced. I believe it can show fashionable,’ he informed VOA.