Jane Cheung and Wallis Wang

The tourism industry needs time to recover to pre-pandemic levels because businesses across the sector are struggling to get enough staff, Tourism Board’s executive director Dane Cheng Ting-yat said.

Cheng said yesterday the industry is seeing “light at the end of the tunnel,” after authorities lifted travel restrictions from September.

“We’ve seen more travelers but most of them are coming for family visits or business trips,” he said.

“But with Hong Kong’s unique status as an international city, its convenient location and the commencement of new museums at the West Kowloon Cultural District, visitors from all around the world are looking forward to coming,” he said.

However, like many other countries, the sector is also facing manpower shortage.

“Hotels, airlines and travel agencies need to hire more frontline and management workers. Retailers and restaurants too,” he said.

The SAR’s step-by-step resumption can allow the industry to gradually get back to prepandemic levels, he said, when some 180,000 travelers come daily.

Cheng said there will be large-scale events in Hong Kong in March, including the Clockenflap Music and Arts Festival, Art Basel and Hong Kong Sevens.

He also expects the number of tourists from up north to increase gradually with the mainland recently restarting the issuance of two-way permits.

Although business visitors, individual travel and small tours have resumed around the world, large tour groups have yet to catch up, Cheng said.

Cheng said Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year parade on the second day of the holiday was one of the city’s landmark event that attracts visitors, but the board did not have enough time to prepare for it this year.

Instead, gigantic rabbit installations will be set up along the Victoria Harbour promenade from Thursday for citizens to take photos with and to welcome the year of rabbit.


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