HK govt rolls out cash incentive to travel agencies

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/24 15:43:41

Hong Kong night view Photo: Courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board

The Hong Kong government rolls out new cash incentives to local travel agencies, to help those that have been hard hit by social unrest, while industry insiders say a complete halt of street violence is needed to restore the tourism sector.

The incentives are part of the government's economic relief plan being offered to enterprises. 

According to the plan, travel agencies will be given HK$120 ($15.3) per inbound tourist staying overnight, and HK$100 per outbound tourist from November to March 2020, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said on Wednesday. 

Yau said that each travel agency could get up to HK$60,000 from the scheme, according to the website of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government. 

The travel agencies could use the money to offer deals to attract tourists, Yau said. 

"This is very much needed at this point of time because of the very drastic reduction in visitors to Hong Kong," Yau said. 

Hong Kong's tourism industry has been hit hard by the social unrest since June, and many travel agencies have closed down or laid off employees. 

During the National Day holidays earlier this month, the number of tourists to Hong Kong dropped about 50 percent in the first six days of the holiday compared to last year. The overall number of visitors to Hong Kong fell to 3.59 million in August, down 39.1 percent year-on-year. 

When law and order are restored, the government should mount a massive and extensive overseas campaign to invite visitors to the city, Yau said. 

Chan Sai-tong, director of Hong Kong Tourism Association, told the Global Times on Thursday that he discussed the government's cash incentive plan with around 100 travel agencies and many believed that the incentive will help stimulate their business to some extent, but may have limited effect over the long run.

"The cash incentive could provide temporary support to agencies, and to fully revive the industry, the government has to stop the violence and restore social order as soon as possible as safety is the priority for most tourists," Chan said.

The overall economy of the city has been drastically impacted by the ongoing riots, and the local government has rolled up several economic relief packages since June. Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced a third round of economic support measures to ease joblessness and support enterprises on Tuesday. The HK$2 billion relief package targeted logistics, food and catering and tourism. 


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