Corporate travel to Hong Kong down as security concerns rise

Some MNCs have banned business travel to Hong Kong out of security fears

Travel restrictions to Hong Kong as a result of the continuing civil unrest has not only resulted in the cancellation of a major corporate travel event in August, but has now led to two US companies banning travel to the city.

Following a global emergency meeting last week, corporate travel managers of a giant US consumer IT company decided to impose a travel ban to Hong Kong, which one industry observer in the know claimed would have repercussions on other aspects of its business and not only corporate travel.

Some MNCs have banned business travel to Hong Kong out of security fears

In late-August, the ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) Global Summit in Macau, with an expected turnout of 700 international participants, was cancelled when many attendees had to pull out due to company travel restrictions.

In the planning stage, the ACTE event was to have taken place in Hong Kong and Macau to showcase the Greater Bay Area.

Another corporate travel manager whose US-based company has also banned travel to Hong Kong, told TTGmice: “(We) had to bear the cancellation cost for the ACTE event as we were not able to get ticket refunds because of the booking class.”

While other global companies have not imposed a ban on travel to Hong Kong, travel managers have reported a dip in traffic to the destination.

AECOM and Siemens, for instance, are avoiding “unnecessary travel”, using conference/video technology or postponing any Hong Kong trips if possible.

Kelvin Li, regional procurement and travel lead, Asia-Pacific AECOM, said travel volume was related to the type of business “during the period” and reported the company had been less impacted.

Jane Sim, commodity manager, ASEAN, with Siemens, said regional travellers have been urged to check travel advisories and the company has emphasised the importance of logging into the company’s security system to help track their whereabouts.

“The percentage of virtual meetings has increased. I don’t have the exact figure, but would say by around 10 to 15 per cent.”

Siemens has also seen changes in business demand in its new financial year, which started in October, Sim noted. “We are keeping our fingers crossed it will not go down too much.

Autodesk does not have a travel ban to Hong Kong, as most of its travel was outbound from Hong Kong, noted Adriana Nainggolan, travel programme manger, Asia-Pacific.

“But someone I know who works in a top wealth management bank said high net worth clients do not want to travel to Hong Kong,” she commented.

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