The clinks of glasses will be replaced by the clicks of the mouse this year as Hong Kong hopes to bring cheer back to the world of wining and dining by moving some main events of the annual festival online.
The Tourism Board said on Friday that online wine tasting classes and workshops by Michelin-star chefs are on the menu this year as the organisers adapt to restrictions forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The event has been extended from the usual few days to five weeks, from November 11 to December 15, and special events will be live-streamed on a dedicated website.
The highlight of past years were the outdoor food and beverage booths at the Central harbourfront.
But these will be replaced by an online wine cellar involving more 100 wine merchants and 34 wine-tasting and foodie workshops that will be held during weekends. Also on offer will be discounts from 30 high-end restaurants on takeaway menus.
The Tourism Board’s chairman YK Pang said there were 180,000 participants in the last festival and 10 percent of them were overseas visitors. He believed by organising the event online, more people will be able to participate this time.
Pang said he has talked to overseas members of the travel sector and they will be observing how Hong Kong is organising such a large-scale event during the pandemic.
”A lot of people are looking at us,” said Pang. “Many in the travel trade in other countries are looking ... and [trying to] understand how we do it.”
Well-known wine critic James Suckling will be among those holding an online wine-tasting session, where people can pre-order the wines and register to join the slotted session.
He said that a lot of international sellers are excited to send their wines to Hong Kong for the festival.
One of the chefs who will be presenting a cooking session, Dai Lung, said he plans to present “Sorrowful Rice”, a signature dish that appeared in a local movie during the 90s.
As the festival takes place, more than 500 restaurants around the city will also have discount offers for dine-in customers.
Last year's festival was originally scheduled to be held at the Central harbourfront, but was cancelled due to the social unrest.