Can Hong Kong deliver its big welcome?

The city is at last ready to once again welcome tourists and business events, but Stuart Bailey says staff shortages are causing concern as to whether the industry will cope

A STAGE of dancing youngsters, slick “Hello Hong Kong” videos and a giveaway of 500,000 airline tickets set the scene. Then the city’s Chief Executive John Lee announced to the world that Hong Kong is onstage again with one of the biggest welcome campaigns ever seen.

It’s a compelling proposition. Hong Kong as a tourist destination has plenty to offer: world-class attractions and museums, entertainment and dining options, first-class hotels and gleaming shopping malls. But there is growing disquiet among the industries expected to provide this world-class experience that they will not be unable to cater to this sudden surge in demand.

Backgrounder… Travel boss warns of post-Covid talent crisis

In the regular discussions Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Industry Association have with the aviation industry, hotels, retail operators, restaurateurs and event organisers, it is crystal clear that we currently do not have the manpower required to deliver a world-class experience to visitors wanting to enjoy the best Hong Kong experience.

Labour shortages are not new to these industries, and the struggle to recruit talented people has been with us for many years, but the global pandemic has exacerbated the situation. Large sections of the workforce have left retail, hospitality and customer-service roles, and are now fully employed elsewhere.

More… Event sales staff turn to property

We are already seeing restaurants across Hong Kong closing early due to a lack of manpower, long queues at hotel check-ins because rooms are not ready, and shops struggling to stay open during normal hours due to staff shortages. How will the city cope once the free air-ticket giveaway starts next month and the volume of visitors increases?

Stuart Bailey is
chairman of the
Hong Kong Convention
and Exhibition Association

One thought on “Can Hong Kong deliver its big welcome?”

  • This is correct. There is a serious talent shortage for audio-visual technicians as many have left Hong Kong or gave up on the industry during the Covid panic.

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