Hong Kong pushes to lift tourism sector as theme parks open

By Huang Ge Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/8 20:39:53

Gentoo penguins at the Ocean Park theme park in Hong Kong on Monday Photo: AFP

Hong Kong's iconic amusement park Ocean Park, which has been facing bankruptcy risks in recent months due to frozen tourism amid the pandemic, is set to reopen on Saturday following local government efforts to boost the city's economy. 

Secretary for Hong Kong's Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said on Monday that virus prevention measures will be taken when the park is opened for the first time since its temporary closure in late January. Measures will include restricting visitor flows and requiring guests to wear masks. 

Hong Kong Disneyland will also be reopened in the short term, Yau said. 

He did not specify the reopening date for the city's Disneyland, which was also shut in late January due to the virus.

As one of Hong Kong's growth engines, the tourism industry was significantly hit this year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in 2020 and social unrest which began in June 2019.

The Hong Kong government in May announced it would provide HK$5.4 billion ($697 million) to keep Ocean Park afloat. Without the government bailout, the park could have faced bankruptcy by the end of June.

Tourists from the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong dropped 99.9 percent year-on-year in April, and non-mainland travelers fell 99.9 percent in the same month, according to the latest data released by the Hong Kong tourism board.

"Outbound travel is still halted due to the pandemic, not only to Hong Kong but also other places. We have not resumed trip products due to the virus outbreak," Xu Xiaolei, marketing manager at China's CYTS Tours Holding Co, told the Global Times on Monday.

"According to our data, domestic market demand for travel to Hong Kong has been almost zero in recent months," Xu noted.

Mainland tourists accounted for 50 percent to 60 percent of global visitors to Hong Kong, but that has been falling since 2019 when the city's order was disrupted by social unrest, Xu noted. 

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said on June 2 that it will extend compulsory quarantine measures by a month for people arriving in Hong Kong from both the mainland and foreign locations, from June 7 to July 7.

Experts said the extension will lay more pressure on Hong Kong's inbound tourism industry while it is necessary for the city to contain the virus.

"We have offered 40 percent discounts to lure customers as the struggling tourism sector is also shrinking the retail industry," a salesperson named Zhang based in Hong Kong told the Global Times on Monday.

If Hong Kong cannot stop its social unrest, measures to boost the local economy like travel promotions will fail to achieve their goal, Hong Kong-based economist Liang Haiming told the Global Times on Monday.

Liang said that Hong Kong is expected to seek strong ties and interactions with cities in the neighboring Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, as well as the announced free trade port in South China's Hainan Province, which will help Hong Kong resume economic growth.

Posted in: ECONOMY,MORE 1

blog comments powered by Disqus