Top News Hong Kong players call for more details to plan for Chinese return By Prudence Lui / Posted on 30 December, 2021 12:00 China’s resumption of travel is lifting spirits across Hong Kong’s tourism sector, but player are urging China for more details to help them better plan their operations. Fanny Yeung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council (TIC), told TTG Asia that the announcement this week took the industry by surprise. Hong Kong players will need time to revamp up operations to welcome back the Chinese “It’s vital that we are able to cope with inbound traffic (from China). With more details from the Central Government, such as daily arrival quota, we can better plan ahead,” she said, adding that Hong Kong has a severe manpower obstacle to overcome due to a talent bleed-out over the past three disrupted years. She said businesses would need to “offer competitive salaries” to lure people back. “I reckon it may take us three to four months to ramp up manpower to meet the needs (of returning Chinese travellers),” said Yeung. However, if all goes well, Yeung expects Hong Kong tourism business to return to pre-pandemic levels in 3Q2023. TIC’s chairman Gianna Hsu is less worried about the immediate future, as China’s travel resumption will coincide with the Chinese New Year holidays starting January 22, 2023. This is typically a low travel season for group tours from China, and that buys Hong Kong some time to prepare for the market’s return. Luc Bollen, general manager of The Park Lane Hong Kong – A Pullman Hotel, is upbeat. “According to recent studies (by Trip.com), Hong Kong remains the top-three most popular destination for all Chinese tourists,” he said. Bollen said his team is well prepared to welcome guests from China. Together with Accor’s regional office, the hotel launched in late-December several room packages aimed at the Chinese. He expects Chinese guests to combine business and leisure when they return to Hong Kong for their first trip in three years. Industry players have expressed concerns about the return of sufficient air capacity to support China’s reopening. Yeung hopes that China’s latest announcement will motivate airlines to accelerate their plans to return to service. A spokesman with homegrown Greater Bay Airlines said the company would “keep monitoring the market situation and work closely with respective stakeholders to get prepared as appropriate”. Greater Bay Airlines is current serving only Bangkok and Taipei. Cathay Pacific has also shed little details on service plans following the December 27 announcement, only saying it would “continue to communicate with relevant authorities and to increase our passenger capacity to and from the Chinese Mainland as much as possible”. Cathay Pacific is operating at about 30 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity and has some weekly services between Hong Kong and select Chinese cities, like Beijing and Chengdu, scheduled for January. In order to keep pace with China’s reopening, Hong Kong will also remove all mandatory PCR test requirements for inbound travellers, quarantine orders and the use of the Vaccine Pass from December 29.