Industry slams group travel relaxation as ‘unreasonable’ for tourism

Hong Kong eased the Covid rules for inbound travelers to allow travel groups to dine out and enter designated attractions, but tourism and business sectors argue that further relaxation should be done.

"The new policy will only add to the hassle for tourists, as travel agencies will have to make uniform arrangements for catering to tours," said lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung of the tourism sector on a radio program on Saturday.

Under the new disease-prevention measures issued by the government last week, inbound groups of travelers will be welcomed by theme parks, museums, temples, and hair salons for entering and dining while still being banned from restaurants and bars.

"It will not attract many visitors," said Yiu, "we had nine million visitors in 2018, but we would be greatly thankful to have 2-3 percent of that year under the current arrangements."

Lawmaker Peter Shiu Ka-fai from the sector of Wholesale and Retail, in the same program, pointed out that the new Covid rules will only push Hong Kong tourists abroad.

"The upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays will see more Hongkongers traveling overseas and hardly any inbound tourists," he predicted.

"The business sector sees little chance of being benefited by the group traveling policy," Shiu said, "it would only cause a drop in local tourism consumption."

In a legislative council yesterday, health minister Lo Chung-mao described the government as "taking one step at a time" on the process of issuing Covid rules.

"How many steps do we still have to wait for?" said Yiu, "we are truly anxious."