The Travel Industry Council on Friday called on the government to give incoming tourists leeway when it comes to Covid restrictions, allowing group visitors greater access to venues and establishments.
The council's executive director, Fanny Yeung, said the sector has been hoping for a timetable to further open up Hong Kong to both mainland China and the rest of the world by rolling out the so-called "0+0" arrangement – under which all quarantine measures are scrapped – but that was not included in the policy blueprint announced on Wednesday.
"For the Policy Address, the tourism sector is a bit disappointed because it seems that it didn't really address our critical concerns, and the [measures] being mentioned were communicated in prior already," she told RTHK, referring to the latest round of spend-to-redeem tours targetting locals that was being launched by the Tourism Board.
Under current Covid rules, inbound travellers are given an amber code on their LeaveHomeSafe app during their first three days in the city, which means they cannot go to places like theme parks and museums and can only buy takeaways from restaurants.
Yeung called on the authorities to allow tour groups to eat in restaurants and visit sightseeing spots during those three days as long as the itineraries are submitted in advance.
"We will see that as a start, of course we won't expect a huge demand but [it's a] start and we can communicate with the overseas market that they can get their first groups of people coming here. So it will definitely not help the business a lot but it is a very significant positive sign to the industry and also to the overseas visitors," she said.
With the trade hit hard by the pandemic, Yeung warned that more travel agencies would close down if they don't get more help soon.
"In the past three years, we have already over 300 agencies closing down. The remaining agencies have been suffering for three years... We are at a crossroads, we don't know if we should still [hold on] or if we should close down."
In response, tourism minister Kevin Yeung said the government is aware of the council's suggestions, adding that it is looking at ways to help the industry.
Last updated: 2022-10-21 HKT 18:24