HK tourism chiefs reveal post-Covid strategy

Hong Kong Tourism Board web conference hears of shift in traveller behaviour; ’ethnic East Asians’ the most eager to venture back and a three-phase recovery plan

TOURISM chiefs in Hong Kong are using the downturn in the travel industry to “review and rethink” the city’s positioning as a global destination with trends such as wellness-themed trips and health emerging as the world looks beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

A web conference organised by Hong Kong Tourism Board also heard that “ethnic Asian visitors” are expected to be the first to visit the city once travel restrictions are eased when health chiefs give an all-clear. There will also be more competition between destinations across the region.

YK Pang (left) with Dane Cheng

“The tourism landscape will be reshaped,” HKTB chairman Dr YK Pang told the April 24 web conference, which was reportedly viewed by an invited audience of 1,500 people from the region’s travel, hotel, airline, F&B, MICE segments and representatives from the tourism board’s international offices.

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“In the post-pandemic world, we will see a shift in preference and behaviour among travellers – the public-health conditions of destinations, and the hygiene standards of transportations, hotels and other tourism facilities will become a top priority; people will prefer short-haul breaks and shorter itineraries; wellness-themed trips will become a new trend,” Pang said.

“It is in fact an ideal time for us to review and rethink Hong Kong’s position in the global tourism market and elevate service standard. Together with the travel trade, the HKTB is going to map out the long-term development strategy for our tourism industry.”

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Representatives from the HKTB’s worldwide offices also participated in the meeting to provide insights into the latest developments in various market regions.

In addition to positive findings about Asian visitors returning to Hong Kong after the pandemic, consumer sentiment is also reported to be upbeat in Canada, France and Germany with outbound travel expected to recover at a faster rate in these markets.

Other market forecasts reported in the web conference included:
Mainland China – Economic activity is resuming with people returning to work. Given the outbreak’s impact on the economy, consumers will become more price-conscious and pursue value-for-money holidays, HKTB reported.

After prolonged confinement, visitors will also place greater emphasis on health and nature. When choosing destinations for future trips, they will favour itineraries that pose low risks to health.

Representatives also reported that the meetings and incentives market has slowed down as many activities have been postponed or due to be held online.

Short-haul and New Markets – Domestic travel will be the major preference shortly after the pandemic, and outbound travel will resume soon after.

Regional competition will be fiercer than ever, as tourism authorities and travel trade in various destinations are gearing up for intensive promotions to vie for visitors.

In Japan, Korea and Taiwan, the young and middle-aged segments will be the most eager to travel. Green tourism and the outdoors will be favoured, while short-haul travel will be preferred due to financial and holiday leave constraints

HKTB previously announced a planned HK$400 million to support promotions by the trade. HKTB executive director Dane Cheng said a three-phase plan has been devised to reinvigorate Hong Kong tourism. The exact timeline depended on the development of the pandemic:

  • Phase 1 (Now) – Resilience – HKTB is preparing a recovery plan for Hong Kong tourism.
  • Phase 2 – Recovery – When the pandemic shows signs of abating, the HKTB will focus on the local market to promote a “positive ambience in Hong Kong” by encouraging locals to rediscover different neighbourhoods and community cultures in order to send a positive message to visitors and restore their confidence in the city. Meanwhile, the HKTB will launch tactical promotions with the trade in selected markets based on the developments of individual markets to stimulate people’s interest to visit Hong Kong.
  • Stage 3 – Relaunch – Mega events and a new tourism brand campaign will be launched to rebuild Hong Kong’s tourism image.

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