The president of the Hong Kong Travel Agent Owners Association says the government needs to do more to encourage international carriers to come back to the SAR.
Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme, Freddy Yip welcomed the Tourism Board's plan to spend $100 million on a global advertising campaign to promote Hong Kong. But he said even residents were finding it difficult to get air tickets to fly home and stressed that relaxing pandemic restrictions and helping airlines to return should be the top priorities.
"Along with global advertising promotions, we need to encourage more international carriers to come back," Yip told RTHK's Samantha Butler. "Right now, even for residents or their relatives who want to come back to Hong Kong it's hard to get an air ticket because most of the carriers have suspended their services."
In tandem with the Tourism Board's promotion efforts, the Airport Authority has announced it will give away 500,000 airline tickets worth HK$2 billion to attract more in-bound travellers.
Yip said this was "a good sign" that Hong Kong wanted to re-open but added that the city was "not yet ready" for more visitors.
"Firstly, we need to further relax pandemic measures, including no restrictions on tourists coming back to Hong Kong," he said. "And secondly, the cost of airline seats needs to come down. Subsidies and concessions, or reduced landing fees, would help to encourage foreign carriers to come back."
Yip added that most Hong Kong travel agents had laid off staff during the pandemic and were waiting for tourism to resume before they re-hired people.
British carrier Virgin Atlantic announced on Wednesday that it was ending its service from the SAR to London and closing its local office.
Cathay Pacific has said it intends to run services at one-third of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, and on Thursday rejected claims from its pilots' union that a shortage of cockpit crew would undermine its attempt to revive services.
Last updated: 2022-10-07 HKT 10:23