The recent upsurge of multiple infectious respiratory illnesses in China may dampen the desire to travel to China, but inbound operators in Macau and Hong Kong have played down its impact on inbound traffic over upcoming peak Christmas season.
In Macau, the Health Bureau issued a notice on November 26 citing a slight increase in Mycoplasma pneumonia infections but at a low level. Citizens have been advised to stay vigilant in winter, a traditional peak flu season.
Pun Cheng Man, travel department sales and marketing manager, China Travel Service (Macao), told TTG Asia: “We specialise in MICE and student exchange tours – so far, there is no cancellation of booking and we don’t see any major impact to our business. In fact, we expect a peak in the upcoming Christmas holidays after a three-year hiatus due to Covid-19.
“Christmas is not a public holiday in China, but the younger generation is keen to experience festive ambience in Macau. Winter is typically our usual flu season and our staff have a choice of wearing mask for self-protection.”
CTSHK Metropole International Travel Service’s deputy general manager, George Kai had similar sentiments: “We still predict incremental growth of Chinese visitors due to territory-wide festive marketing and promotions like seasonal discounts to draw visitation. In fact, the respiratory illness attacks children mostly and is confined to Northern China. People are less vulnerable after living through Covid-19. As usual, we advise our staff to (take) preventive measures (such as) wearing masks or (getting) seasonal influenza vaccination.”
With the upcoming Chinese New Year next year, Kam Wai Travel’s director, Frankie Lam noted that the period would be the peak season for Chinese travellers visiting Hong Kong. He added that FITs from China only come to Hong Kong during the Christmas season for shopping, thanks to the various big sales in Hong Kong during that period.
In mid-October, the Centre for Health Protection in Hong Kong had already urged members of the public to heighten their vigilance against respiratory tract infection, including Covid-19, seasonal influenza and Mycoplasma pneumonia infection.
In view of high flu infection rate in China, Taiwan has also stepped up measures, including voluntary screenings for respiratory illnesses for people presently arriving from China, including Macau and Hong Kong.