Pending exit of HKTB’s well-liked chief surprises many in trade

Travel trade players are shocked by news of the departure of Hong Kong Tourism Board’s (HKTB) executive director Anthony Lau, well-liked in the industry for opening up dialogues and consultations with agents and other tourism stakeholders.

Lau, who joined HKTB in 2007, will step down from the post upon completion of his contract on July 31, 2019.

Agents say Lau brought a welcome style of accessible leadership to HKTB

He has been responsible for the organisation’s strategic direction over the past 12 years, with HKTB acknowledging his role in keeping the organisation ahead through a series of innovative strategies and campaigns, in addition to strengthening the NTO’s relationships with a wide spectrum of stakeholders.

Travel agents in Hong Kong agree that Lau helped make big strides when it comes to product innovation and opening up a more dialogic relationship with industry players.

Hong Kong Association of Registered Tour Coordinator’s chairman, Wing Wong, said: “I was surprised by his decision. Overall speaking, he delivered what we needed (when it comes to) driving versatile promotions and new products.

“Compared to his predecessors, Lau maintained a closer contact with the trade by organising lots of meetings to enhance understanding and communications. He also works very hard and we feel like partners. Hopefully, the successor will carry on this style of leadership.”

Gray Line Tours’ managing director and former Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu expressed similar sentiments: “Looking back, I praise his passion and efforts to build a close connection and partnership with us stakeholders like attractions, agents, hotels, airlines and the media. Whenever there is any new initiative or idea, he calls us directly for advice before rolling them out.”

While lauding Lau’s leadership style, he also acknowledged that Lau was in a high-pressure job” and suggested he might have felt it was “time to take a break”.

Alice Chan, Travel Industry Council’s executive director, said Anthony’s resignation came as a shock “especially when the HKTB has just had a new chairman”.

She said HKTB has done well under the leadership of Anthony and its former chairman Peter Lam.

“HKTB has launched subsidy schemes to provide funding support for travel agents in developing new tour products and receiving small meeting, incentive and convention groups, etc. I hope the HKTB, under its new leadership, will continue to increase its efforts in attracting more visitors from the non-mainland market.”

The organisation said in a statement that “a global search” for Lau’s successor will begin shortly. Lau will continue to oversee all aspects of HKTB’s operation until his departure.

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