Hong Kong’s domestic tourism recovery gathers pace

With the fourth Covid-19 wave ebbing and the government’s vaccination programme in progress, Hong Kong tourism players see a glimmer of hope as recovery campaigns resume to spur local consumption and travel.

Last Friday (March 26), the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) kicked off the Staycation Delights programme to boost domestic spending. The public can collect original machine-printed receipts with a minimum spend of at least HK$800 (US$102) in physical retail or dining outlets to redeem a HK$500 discount on a hotel package. The promotion is capped at 20,000 room bookings on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hong Kong restarts efforts to spur domestic tourism; tourists at Ocean Park Hong Kong pictured 

This is in addition to a new round of promotions under the Holiday at Home campaign to boost consumption in the city’s retail and F&B sectors.

All Wharf Hotels in town participated in the promotions to pivot to the staycation market in the absence of international visitors.

Additionally, the group has also rolled out a series of offers to stir interest among the domestic crowd. The Colour Your Spring package, launched at Niccolo and Marco Polo hotels in Hong Kong, offers 20 per cent off room rates for stays from February 27 to April 30, 2021, with an exclusive gift to “cultivate the qualities of mindfulness” throughout one’s stay.

“We have seen good traction and pick-up for this package – which covers the Easter period – with very positive bookings at the hotel,” said president of Wharf Hotels, Jennifer Cronin.

Meanwhile, the HKTB is preparing to launch the second round of the Free Tour programme once bans on local tours are lifted.

The Free Tour programme aims to boost the local economy by giving free Hong Kong tours to local residents who spend a certain amount at brick-and-mortar retailers and dining outlets.

While exact details for the second round of the campaign have not yet been released, a total of 20,000 seats will be made available this time round – double that of the first stage of the programme.

HKTB has since approved submissions of itineraries submitted by tour agencies in mid-February for the second round of the programme.

“Response has been overwhelming, with more agents signing up to offer their products this time round,” said Wing Wong, director of sales and marketing at Prince Travel, among the agencies who signed up.

Wong stated that the government has been in talks with the travel trade on the conditions for the resumption of local tours. He added: “Employees in tourism-related sectors are now among the priority groups for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. So we’d get vaccinated in the next few weeks to prepare for the resumption of tours.”

Still, the government needs to take action to revive inbound tourism, claimed Cronin. This includes creating “a road map to reduce the city’s three-week quarantine, the most severe in the world, and a vaccination e-certification platform that is globally recognised”, she said.

“The safety of our community is paramount, but the sustainability of our city’s business environment will have profound social and economic outcomes, if not addressed as soon as possible. Hong Kong’s competitiveness can be ahead of the curve with improvements in these initiatives.”

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