Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung said as Hong Kong is relatively late in reopening for tourists, the city must try its best to make up for lost time and lure back more holidaymakers now.
"We think it’s time to make an all-out effort to do this. From a macro perspective, when comparing us with other competing cities worldwide, we are relatively late in reopening borders for tourists," he said in a TV interview.
Yeung said the Hello Hong Kong campaign – dubbed by Chief Executive John Lee as "the world's biggest welcome ever" – is a good strategy to attract tourists.
The tourism minister said he hopes the free flight tickets offered by the campaign can bring visitors back as soon as possible, but he also pointed out that the expiry date of the tickets may vary with airlines and countries.
He reiterated that it's hard to determine how long it would take for inbound tourist numbers to return to the pre-pandemic levels.
Yeung said it took other regions a year to reach 70 percent after relaxing their entry conditions.
On the cruise industry, the tourism chief said some 80 cruise lines are expected to pass through Hong Kong this year, and authorities will do more to boost the trade, including promoting the city's attractions to cruise companies, offering them discounted fees and leading travel agencies to join worldwide exhibitions for more business opportunities.
When asked about the travel sector's concern about the quarantine facilities near the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal affecting Hong Kong's image, Yeung said there's no need to be overly worried.
"Before arriving at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, cruises will pass through the beautiful Victoria Harbour. [Tourists] will be drawn by the beautiful scenery," Yeung said, adding that they would be more interested in the city's tourist destinations than the quarantine facilities.