More initiatives to support Hong Kong’s travel and tourism industry have been detailed, following the government’s 2023/24 budget announcement last week.
The Travel Agents Incentive Scheme, which is due to expire end of March 2023, will be extended by three months. New schemes for fully guaranteed loans will be offered to eligible passenger transport operators and licensed travel agents, with about HK$2.7 billion (US$344 million) set aside for this purpose. Furthermore, some HK$30 million will be injected into the Information Technology Development Matching Fund Scheme for Travel Agents.
Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) will also get an additional HK$200 million to fund its fight for more international business events and high value‑added visitors, allowing it to consolidate Hong Kong’s position as the premier business events destination in the region.
In response to these measures, Travel Industry Council (TIC) chairman Gianna Hsu told TTG Asia that the industry is disappointed that the proposed Travel Industry Resumption Fund had fallen through.
The fund, first put forward to secretary for culture, sports and tourism Kevin Yeung by Legislative Council member Perry Yiu Pak-leung in a meeting last November, was meant to support the beleaguered travel and tourism industry in relaunching their business.
Yiu recognised that the industry needed to recruit manpower and carry out repair and maintenance for equipment and facilities that have been left idle for a long period of time, putting them under tremendous cash flow pressure as they prepare for tourism recovery.
In a press statement, TIC reiterated the financial and manpower challenges faced by its stakeholders in the present early stage of tourism recovery.
Hsu also told TTG Asia: “We wish for more supportive measures to be deployed in future. Hopefully, the government will keep monitoring our business situation and lend its support in a timely manner.”
The return of arrivals from China, a major source market, is still slow, according to Hsu. While Chinese tour groups are now allowed to travel to Hong Kong, the destination receives no more than 20 tour groups from China daily.
“It is hoped that the numbers will triple in March,” she said.