"Tourism Sector Needs To Move With The Times"

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2023-01-23 HKT 13:28

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  • The Travel Industry Council's Gianna Hsu says the sector is not ready to get back to pre-pandemic levels this year. File photo: RTHK

    The Travel Industry Council's Gianna Hsu says the sector is not ready to get back to pre-pandemic levels this year. File photo: RTHK

The chairwoman of the Travel Industry Council Gianna Hsu on Monday said the sector needs to innovate and change to reflect new trends among tourists as the hard-hit sector struggles to recover from the pandemic.

Speaking on an RTHK radio programme, Hsu said people are now more likely to travel as individuals rather than joining a tour group. She said travel agencies could introduce more specialised activities, such as short tours based on different themes.

"In the past two years, we discovered a lot of environmental spots in Hong Kong through different green local tours. Some tourists enjoy camping as well. Travel agencies may arrange campsites for tourists and arrange some special meals for them. This will be a new experience for tourists," she said.

Hsu also said the sector could make use of Covid isolation facilities that are no longer in use as the pandemic ease.

She said study and cultural exchange tours had been struggling to find appropriate accommodation, and suggested the government offer disused isolation facilities to them at a low price.

Hsu said she is confident in the industry's prospects, but acknowledged that it is not ready to get back to pre-pandemic levels this year.

"In early 2023, airlines and labour in the sector are not fully prepared, so the tourism sector won't be able to get back to pre-pandemic levels until the next year. We hope different parties can do more to speed up the recovery process."

She urged the government to do more promotions, such as reducing airport tax in the short term, to encourage inbound and outbound tourism.

Speaking on the same programme, Dennis Wong, former head of the Department of Hospitality at the Vocational Training Council, echoed Hsu's views, saying he is optimistic about the recovery of the sector.

"The first batch of travellers are those with business purposes, including those attending Expos in Hong Kong. I believe there will be more individual travellers first, but it's difficult for us to see a large number of tour groups again," he said

But Wong said travellers are still hesitant due to the remaining Covid restrictions imposed in different parts of the world, such as worrying about sudden flight cancellations.