Government resources allocated for cancelled tourism events in Hong Kong could be redeployed to the struggling travel sector as the downturn in arrivals caused by the ongoing protests spreads to outbound travellers, according to the city’s commerce chief.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah on Thursday said the number of arrivals during the first seven days of October – mainland China’s ‘golden week’ holiday – dropped by more than 50 per cent compared with last year, while the number of outbound travellers fell 20 to 30 per cent.
Yau said the decline in travellers arriving and leaving Hong Kong had triggered concerns about employment in the sector, adding that city officials would discuss how to help the crucial tourism industry ride out the anti-government protest crisis.
He said the current resources available for small and medium-sized enterprises and those for the Hong Kong Tourism Board were among the options under consideration for redistribution.
Overall, the most important thing is to restore the city’s tourism sector
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau
“Initially, maybe [the resources] were for hosting some big events,” he said. “But, maybe when these activities are delayed or cancelled, then we can see how to put those [resources] into the sector and help the industry weather the storm through reallocation.”
The Hong Kong Tourism Board last week called off two of the city’s signature annual events – the Cyclothon and the Wine & Dine Festival – citing “unforeseen circumstances in the coming weeks”.
The Cyclothon was cancelled after the organiser of the Hammer Series, which features some of the world’s top cyclists, decided not to come to Hong Kong. The event was to be held along the Tsim Sha Tsui East promenade on October 13.
The four-day Wine & Dine Festival was originally planned for October 31 at Central Harbourfront. The location, right next to government headquarters, has been a frequent site of protests.
The Tourism Board also cancelled the dragon boat carnival in June as the protest movement intensified.
Four tourism-related groups under the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions met Yau on Thursday to voice concerns about the damaging effects of the continuing crisis.
Lam Chi-ting, executive director of the Tourism Industry Employees General Union, said the recommendations made to Yau included offering subsidies for Hongkongers to visit local tourist attractions and helping residents find work in the Greater Bay Area.
Yau said government would consider any suggestion that could help the vital tourism industry, including proposals to encourage residents to visiting the city’s attractions.
“Overall, the most important thing is to restore the city’s tourism sector … and to think about how to attract visitors to Hong Kong because the drop in arrival numbers is shocking,” Yau said.
This article Resources for scrapped Hong Kong tourist events – such as Cyclothon and Wine & Dine Festival – could be redeployed to struggling travel sector, commerce chief Edward Yau says first appeared on South China Morning Post