Hong Kong will continue to hold large-scale events like the Wine and Dine Festival to maintain its competitiveness in the tourism industry amid the pandemic, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said.
He was questioned yesterday by lawmakers at the Legislative Council on how to help the sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
“At least we have to maintain the attractiveness of the brands,” Yau said. “Large-scale events will still be held in Hong Kong, even if they have turned online.”
He also said the government would expand room for business for the tourism industry whenever the pandemic situation in Hong Kong improves, just as when local group tours resumed in late April and “cruises-to-nowhere” were allowed in late July.
As of Tuesday, 17 “cruises-to-nowhere” have departed, involving nearly 22,000 passengers, Yau said.
“All these will certainly help the tourism trade,” he added.
With not many tourists in the city, Yau also said the government will use this period to improve local tourist attractions, including the repositioning of Ocean Park.
Yau said the government has launched five rounds of financial support schemes through the anti-epidemic fund since last year, providing a total of HK$2.6 billion funds to support the industry, which benefited over 1,700 travel agents and around 21,000 tourism workers.
He also said the government has increased its financial commitment toward the Travel Agents Incentive Scheme and the Green Lifestyle Local Tour Incentive Scheme to around HK$150 million and HK$100 million respectively.
The government has also created time-limited jobs for tourism workers and around 1,800 people were employed to work in the community vaccination centers, Yau said.
But Yau said it would be difficult for travel agents to get subsidies through the Travel Agents Incentive Scheme, in which travel agents can get cash incentives based on the number of inbound and outbound overnight travelers they served.