Back with a bang

Hong Kong brings out star power, festivals and generous support schemes to reel leisure travellers and business events back to its shores

Hong Kong may be among the last tourism destinations in Asia-Pacific to reopen to the world after the pandemic disruption, but the city had been all ready to hit the ground running when the last entry barriers were lifted in February this year.

Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) swiftly flagged off its Hello Hong Kong campaign, which was fronted by three legendary pop icons – Aaron Kwok, Sammi Cheng and Kelly Chen. It was rolled out across South-east Asia, even in the non-Chinese-speaking Asian markets like Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Hello Hong Kong campaign appeals to a younger audience

According to Martin Gwee, director, South-east Asia, HKTB, it worked because Hong Kong’s pop culture has a strong grip across the region. “The campaign reinforced the cultural closeness of Hong Kong and South-east Asia, and made it easier for us to get back into the minds of travellers from this region.”

The star-studded Hello Hong Kong campaign has recently been updated with a new set of content that plays up aspects of Hong Kong which appeal to a younger audience. It focused on culinary, entertainment, night life, great outdoors and culture.

In mid-September, HKTB rolled out Night Vibes Hong Kong, a campaign that packs in a slew of night-time events. Running till December, the campaign encourages tourists to head outdoors after sunset through the lure of performances, cultural events, markets and guided tours lined up at harbour-front sites. More than 80 shopping malls will extend their opening hours, conduct cultural and sports events as well as outdoor night markets, and offer special dining and consumption deals. HKTB is also handing out Hong Kong Night Treats dining vouchers to visitors, plus special prices for open-top bus tours.

Running alongside these initiatives is HKTB’s Seeing is Believing approach, which focuses on getting travel influencers to share their positive, first-person experience of the city.

Seeing is Believing applies to Hong Kong’s business events sector too. 
A fam trip involving 170 event agents and corporate buyers from China, South Korea and India was hosted in summer, and more of such activities will be conducted for other markets.

However, the biggest push Hong Kong is making for the recovery of its business events sector lies in the application of subventions.

Marilyn Tham, deputy general manager, MICE with meetings & exhibitions, Hong Kong, said: “Government support for inbound events is the strongest ever this year, all to spur the recovery of Hong Kong’s business events industry. Subsidies are available for all forms of business events, for different scales, and for different stakeholders.

“We understand that resuming events now can be challenging, especially as capacity and manpower issues are pushing prices up, so the government is doing all it can to help events take off in Hong Kong.”

A new HK$1.4 billion (US$179 million) incentive scheme was rolled out on July 1 to attract recurring exhibitions to Hong Kong. It is expected to support over 200 exhibitions in the coming three years.

This is joined by a further HK$200 million funding to enhance bids for international large-scale business events related to finance, innovation and technology, medicine industries, which will in turn attract high-value visitors to Hong Kong. – Additional reporting by Prudence Lui

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