Vaccines 'still help with subvariants'

Entrepreneurs will opt to attend Singapore's FinTech Festival in November since Hong Kong's stringent quarantine policies, which "cannot compare" with Singapore's, will deter businessmen from attending a major finance summit here, a finance-sector representative of the Legislative Council said.

Ronick Chan Chun-ying said yesterday the clashing schedules would draw participants away from the Hong Kong summit, attracting them instead to Singapore, which has been allowing travelers who are not fully vaccinated to skip quarantine since last month.

Hong Kong's Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit, held on November 1 and 2, will go head to head with the FinTech Festival, which runs from November 2 to 4. Hong Kong is also hosting its own fintech week from October 31 to November 4.

"Hong Kong's travel regulations cannot compare with those of Singapore. This will undermine the attractiveness of our finance summit, leading enterprises to attend Singapore's in-person conference while attending the Hong Kong event virtually," he said.

"I believe that while Singapore attracts more finance talent, Hong Kong will continue to face challenges in that regard," he said, adding that he hopes the new policy address, slated to be delivered on October 19, will have measures to strengthen the SAR's competitive edge.

Starting November 1, visitors who are confirmed as Covid positive during their mandatory three-day hotel quarantine will not have to make a separate hotel booking to undergo isolation.

Authorities announced Tuesday that such guests will be allowed to stay in their hotel rooms as part of the ninth cycle of the designated quarantine hotel scheme. It is understood that hotels under the scheme are required to leave at least 3 percent of their rooms vacant for quarantine use.

The executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, Timothy Chui Ting-pong, said the procedure should not pose difficulties, as the practice was common well before the epidemic began: "Switching rooms isn't hard to do. It was a common occurrence even when hotels were operating as regular hotels."

Tourism-industry veterans have weighed in on the sector's performance, saying that the number of inbound travelers has not seen a significant increase since the government cut down mandatory hotel quarantine from seven days to three last month.

"The 3+4 measure is not attractive to [tourists] at all," said Perry Yiu Pak-leung, the sector's representative in Legco.

"In terms of opening up and receiving people from across the globe, I don't think anything is going to change as long as the 3+4 system is in effect."

He also hoped authorities will conduct a data review as soon as possible and set a timeline for the implementation of a 0+7 system that would require inbound travellers to undergo only seven days of medical surveillance.

Starting today, authorities will improve point-to-point transport services from the airport to quarantine hotels by designating boarding areas for free and self-paid transport services, and setting up digital displays in the arrivals hall that indicate the number of point-to-point service taxis available for hire at the airport.