Published on : Thursday, April 9, 2020
The impact of the novel coronavirus or COVID 19 on Hong Kong’s tourism sector is unprecedented and the city can hope to start seeing things returning to normal by July, in part by trying to develop new tourism markets, the head of the tourism board.
The coronavirus crisis has paralysed the global financial hub’s economy, which was already reeling from months of anti-government protests, with travel restrictions to curb the spread of infection grinding tourism to a halt.
Dane Cheng, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said it would focus on boosting local consumer spending, attracting more mainland visitors and promoting the city to new markets such as India and Vietnam and to Muslim tourists.
Cheng said that the best we can hope for would be in the month of June. By that time, you could see things resume to normal. The border of Hong Kong reopening, air services resuming, that is the time for us to move on and start our recovery plan.
The tourism sector accounts for about 4.5% of Hong Kong’s gross domestic product and employs around 260,000 people. Cheng was speaking hours before the government announced relief measures worth HK$137.5 billion ($17.7 billion) to help businesses and people crippled by the coronavirus outbreak to stay on their feet.
In a bid to stamp out the disease COVID-19 caused by the virus, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has already imposed tough restrictions, including banning all tourist arrivals and prohibiting gatherings of more than four people. The city’s tourist arrivals plunged 96.4% year-on-year in February to 199,123 visitors, the latest data shows, compared with a 52.7% year-on-year drop in January. The number of mainland visitors fell 97.8% year-on-year in February to 98,804.