The former Executive Council convenor, Bernard Chan, said on Sunday that a visit by a Hong Kong business delegation to the Apec summit sent an important message that the SAR is heading towards further opening up.
He made the comments a week after the delegation, led by Chief Executive John Lee on his first overseas trip as the SAR's leader, returned from Bangkok, where the CE held talks with Southeast Asian leaders and Thai companies. Other government officials and representatives of the business sector joined the visit.
"The business trip to Thailand meant a lot, as it was the first [overseas] trip led by the Chief Executive since the pandemic began two and a half years ago. It sent a message to both locals and the outside world that Hong Kong is returning to normalcy," he told a Commercial Radio programme on Sunday.
Chan, who chairs the Hong Kong-Thailand Business Council, added that he expects the SAR's ties with countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations grouping to strengthen in the current geopolitical situation.
Meanwhile Chan, who serves as vice-chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Board, said a government decision to allow some tourists to enter museums as soon as they arrive in Hong Kong was good news for the sector.
People who join inbound tour groups accompanied by licensed guides can now enter attractions such as theme parks, museums and temples during their first three days in Hong Kong, when they're under medical surveillance and have an amber health code.
"We thank the government for allowing visitors with an amber code to visit museums," Chan said. "People with amber codes won't take off their masks during their museum visit, so the infection risk is quite low. This is a good first step."
But Chan said more Covid curbs should be eased to boost arts and cultural industries, including lifting the capacity limit of 85 percent at performance venues.