The number of international tourists coming to Hong Kong will likely be back up to pre-Covid levels by the end of 2024, the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council said on Tuesday.
Only around 2.7 million visitors from overseas came to the SAR in the first half of this year, according to Tourism Board data, compared to about 7 million in the first half of 2019.
But the council's president and chief executive officer, Julia Simpson, told RTHK that Hong Kong is still an attractive destination, and getting more airlines to fly to the city could help boost visitor numbers.
"We need to ensure that we can attract air carriers here and that we make it easier for airlines to come to Hong Kong," said Simpson.
"Diversify Hong Kong. I know we are looking at this 20,000-seat stadium next to the airport getting great entertainers. Diversify all kinds of sporting events. So, there's lots of opportunities. If you look at a map of the world, and you said where are the global crown jewels of travel and tourism, Hong Kong will always be there."
Simpson also had a lot of praise for the government's "Night Vibes Hong Kong" campaign, which includes HK$100 dining coupons and cheap tour bus rides for tourists.
"I think it's a fantastic idea because we need to diversify what we offer tourists and Hong Kong has got a great night life. It's a very safe city. It's a very friendly city. It's got lots of different things to offer. So, I would really, really applaud what the Hong Kong government are doing. Who doesn't like a city with a great night life."
Along with Hong Kong, the mainland has also failed to see international tourist numbers rebound to pre-pandemic levels.
But Simpson said she is optimistic that China will overtake the US as the world's top tourism economy in the next 10 years.
She called on mainland authorities to loosen visa requirements for international tourists.