The pandemic offers chance to Hong Kong to redesign its tourism

Published on : Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Like it or not, we will be encountering a tourism revolution anytime soon. By “we” I meant not just Hong Kong where a fundamental reshaping of the sector is quite sure but the world economy to the entirety.

The harm imposed by the pandemic and lockdowns worldwide is tremendous, and expectation of the damage being momentary is evaporating as well. With revival in the travel, aviation and tourism industries not expected many years, a “tighten your belt and hold your breath” strategy cannot work. Hotels, airlines and the millions of people heavily dependent on overseas tourism have no other alternative but to imagine their future once again.

The World Tourism Organization of the UN is predicting a global fall of 60 to 80 per cent this year. The global total of international tourists is expected to drop by 850 million, to 1.2 billion, with revenues down US$910 billion, to US$1.2 trillion and tourism jobs down 100 million, to 120 million.

The World Travel and Tourism Council for the Asia-Pacific has predicted that almost 60 million to 115 million jobs will be gone, from a starting point of 182 million jobs by the end of 2020 as the number of arrivals drop by 40 to 67 per cent. In 2019, tourism revenue had amounted to almost US$3 trillion is forecasted to drop by between US$980 billion and US$1.88 trillion.

The United States, China and the European Union, might get encouraged this otherwise catastrophic trend with a rapid domestic travel recovery. In July 2020, Chinese domestic air travel was 5 per cent below July last year. For the rest of the world, though, the forecast is pretty miserable.

The challenge will be particularly acute for economies dependent entirely on tourism, like Macau, Thailand and the Philippines. Those like Hong Kong or Singapore, for whom there is no domestic travel industry, also face a tough time.

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