Hopes are rising within Hong Kong’s embattled MICE industry that the long-awaited travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore signals a baby step towards MICE recovery and may pave the way forward for similar arrangements with other countries to restore travel and trade links.
First slated to launch last November, the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble (ATB) arrangement was suspended due to a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. Both cities have set May 26 as the ATB’s new targeted start date.
Initially, both parties will start the ATB arrangement with one flight a day in each direction, capped at 200 passengers per flight for the first two weeks. The ATB flights will be operated by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, with both airlines having released their ATB flight schedules.
In preparation, Shangri-La Group (Hong Kong) has been working closely with its global sales team from Singapore to look at their rates are planning to roll out a strategic tactical offer to suit their corporate clientsâ€™ needs.
A hotel’s spokesperson said: â€śThis quarantine-free bi-lateral air travel will definitely bring both cities great advantages and is an important step to help tourism and the hotel industry take off again.â€ť
A similar positive sentiment is echoed by Doris Lam, general manager of Momentous Asia Travel & Events, and while she sees “some light at the end of the tunnel” she noted that “it’ll take some time before events take place”.
“This is because the current travel bubble is aimed at individual travel. Currently, there are restrictions on group sizing for gatherings in Hong Kong which will make events difficult. There are also issues of insurance that event planners will have to consider. (The situation is also uncertain) as the bubble can be put on hold anytime if the situation worsens (on either side), which makes planning an event a challenge,” Lam elaborated.