Entry quarantine dampens Hong Kong’s tourism recovery potential

While Hong Kong will permit entry for non-residents from May 1, ending a lengthy 25-month suspension of overseas arrivals since March 25, 2020, travel and tourism professionals in the destination say the retention of a mandatory seven-day quarantine for arriving travellers will hamper recovery potential.

Jennifer Cronin, president, Wharf Hotels, told TTG Asia that while the decision was a positive step in the right direction, “it is not anywhere near enough to restart arrivals in any significant numbers”.

Although non-residents may enter Hong Kong, they still have to quarantine for seven days

She noted that Hong Kong’s ongoing mandatory quarantine in a world that is opening up with greater ease will not place the destination on the bucket list of business and leisure travellers.

“There is no question (that the reopening of borders for non-residents) is lessening the burden for Hong Kong and expat families to reconnect from a cost and time perspective, but until (mandatory quarantine) is removed completely, Hong Kong will continue to lag behind our Asian counterparts,” Cronin added.

Offering a more positive view, China Travel Service (Hong Kong), chairman and lawmaker for tourism, Perry Yiu, said Hong Kong’s easing measures have benefitted business travel, “as many expatriates or businessmen are able to return now and handle urgent business”.

However, Arrow Travel’s managing director, Tommy Tam, warned that Hong Kong’s limited number of Designated Quarantine Hotels (DQHs) would be an additional obstacle to Hong Kong’s tourism recovery. Even if travellers were keen to visit Hong Kong, they would have to compete for DHQ rooms with the wave of returning overseas students home bound for their summer holidays from May to July.

“It will not be easy (for travellers) to book (a DQH),” he opined.

Hong Kong has been expanding its number of quarantine hotels to cope with returning Hong Kong residents and arriving foreign domestic helpers. Royal Pacific Hotel, The Kowloon Hotel, and Cordis, Hong Kong were recently converted to DQHs, injecting some 2,000 rooms to the current supply in mid-April.

From May 1, four hotels that are currently used to quarantine foreign domestic helpers will begin to also accept returning Hong Kong residents from places other than China and Macau. They are Courtyard by Marriott Hong Kong Sha Tin, iclub Ma Tau Wai Hotel, O’Hotel, and Rambler Garden Hotel. They will boost the inventory with 1,600 rooms, bringing the total quarantine room inventory to over 14,000 rooms across 45 DQHs.

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