'Ease gatherings ban so coach tours can resume' - RTHK
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'Ease gatherings ban so coach tours can resume'

2020-09-26 HKT 11:31
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  • 'Ease gatherings ban so coach tours can resume'
The president of the Hong Kong Travel Agent Owners Association has called on the government to ease a restriction on public gatherings so the travel industry can make money by putting on local coach tours instead of relying on handouts.

Freddy Yip says allowing gatherings of up to 30 will allow the industry to put on profitable trips, allowing coach drivers to get back to work and easing the dependence of businesses on official relief measures.

The industry has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen Hong Kong close its borders to tourists for much of the year and limit many activities locally.

Yip told a radio programme that he had put the idea of easing the gathering limit to Health Secretary Sophia Chan and had received a positive response.

"The Hong Kong government realise that they cannot afford to keep on giving out the money to all the sectors," Yip said. "Every sector is complaining that it's not enough for them so the travel agents are getting less money compared to other sectors.

"For almost 10 months, they have had almost no income and they have to keep on paying the expenses of their offices."

He said tour coaches were no more risky for the health of participants than travelling on public transport.

"Compared to the public bus where so many people stand up with the mask, face to face, it will not be so risky to allow them to sit in a tourist coach," he said, adding that coach tours would only be profitable if they had more than 20 to 25 people aboard.

"Right now, so many tourist buses are parked in Kwai Chung. Let them come out and serve the people, and let the driver of the tourist bus have some work to do, and some income."

Meanwhile Ho Lai-chuen, of the Hong Kong Live Performance and Production Industry Association, also called on the administration to take steps to help performers.

He said the government could provide performance venues for free so they could put on shows for online audiences and ease rules that force venues to operate at only half their usual capacity. He said actions taken to help the industry so far showed officials were "out of touch"