Travel sector representatives are calling on the government to reopen the cruise industry this summer, to allow people to go on "seacations" after cruises ground to a halt more than a year ago due to the pandemic.
The Hong Kong Travel Agents' Relief Alliance said on Friday that the city is lagging behind its neighbours such as Taiwan and Singapore which have reopened local cruises since last year.
The group said many people have longed to travel, citing results of polls that it conducted showing nearly 90 percent of respondents indicating they would consider going on a cruise if proper infection-control measures are in place on board.
They proposed that the government allow cruise ships to take passengers to international waters for a brief vacation, without berthing overseas.
Kelvin Fung, head of sales from Royal Caribbean Cruises, said the relaunch of cruises by his company in Singapore last December has proved to be successful and safe.
He said the firm is willing to put in place stringent precautionary measures, including testing all crew and passengers before they go on board.
“We are looking at a full PCR test for our guest. In the testing industry, that is the gold standard and that is the more accurate testing choice. But I think the ultimate decision really depends on the requirements put forward by the Hong Kong government. If they are requiring PCR test or on-spot antigen test or any other options, we’ll definitely work with them,” he said.
Fung also said apart from adopting social-distancing measures, they are ready to set up negative pressure wards onboard to isolate suspected patients, and a team of medical doctors and nurses would provide medical assistance if needed.
Christine Li, senior vice president from Dream Cruises, said there has been no infection linked to her company's cruises in Taiwan and Singapore over the past nine months, which showed the effectiveness of their infection-control measures.
The alliance also urged the government to allow local tours to reopen, saying this could give confidence to other countries and regions to set up travel schemes with Hong Kong.
Travel industry hopes 'seacations' will make waves
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