Tour groups sigh for restrictions on first trip to Hong Kong

The first tour group arriving in Hong Kong under the recent relaxation of entry curbs were forced to dine in hotel rooms as they failed to make catering arrangements in restaurants in time.

The 50-member travel group from Thailand arrived yesterday for a four-day, three-night trip after Hong Kong started to welcome inbound tour group travellers to dine in designated catering premises and enter attractions like theme parks when holding an Amber Code.

However, the group was asked to dine in the hotel as they failed to arrange the designated restaurants in time. Tour travellers are only allowed to enter the restaurant when their Health Code colours turn blue.

Yuen Fung-lin, general manager of Carry On Travel Services, the travel agency serving the Thai tour group, said many travellers were disappointed with the government's arrangement.

"They complained about the complexity of travelling as they are not allowed to dine outside," she said, "and were asked to upload their results of rapid antigen tests to the government website."

Separately, chairwoman of the Travel Industry Council Gianna Hsu Wong Mei-lun said only three tour groups, whose headcount of members ranging from 10 to 40, have submitted their applications to travel in Hong Kong under the new anti-epidemic measures.

"The number is anticipated," she added, noting no rebound will show in tourism even if the government expand the lists of premises which allows inbound traveller who holds an Amber Code to enter.

Ricky Tse Kam-ting, Founding President of the Hong Kong Inbound Tour Operators Association, described the new relaxation of arrival curbs as "better than nothing".

"Hong Kong still needs to take steps in recovering the competitivity for further easing the entry curbs," he said.

Group tour travellers will also see reduced PCR tests as they only need to undergo them twice after arrival, but a daily rapid antigen test is still needed during their journey.