As Hong Kong approaches friendlier entry requirements that will take effect this Friday, local event players remain doubtful of a business rebound.
Among the measures that will set in on April 1 are the lifting of a flight ban on nine countries and reduction of hotel quarantine requirement to seven days for all arrivals from overseas.
Liberty Hong Kong, CEO, Portia Hau, told TTGmice: “The easing measures will not benefit inbound MICE, as travellers are still required to serve quarantine for seven days when their average length of stay is three or four nights. Event organisers will not choose a destination with compulsory quarantine. Now, many other destinations in Asia have removed their quarantine requirement. Unless the trip is critical, event organisers will not consider Hong Kong.”
George Kai, deputy general manager, CTSHK Metropole International Travel Service, expressed concerns about the availability of flight capacity and hotel accommodation as Hong Kong opens up. He noted that passenger flights have not fully resumed, while event venues such as Asia-World Expo are now serving as community treatment facilities; a number of hotels are also functioning as quarantine facilities.
Industry players said business events recovery would take time, and some are confident that Hong Kong can rebuild her status as an important business events hub.
“Hong Kong has established herself as a strategic location and entry point to China. We are well equipped and trained for business events. We believe that a favourable business environment, as well as clear and strategic government policies, are crucial to rebuilding Hong Kong’s status as the business hub for Asia,” remarked CTM Asia’s CEO Larry Lo.
“A clear plan can help business leaders and investors in multinational companies to plan better for the future, and most importantly to maintain their operations in Hong Kong,” Lo added.
While Doris Lam, general manager of Momentous Asia Travel & Events, acknowledges that some exhibitions have moved away from Hong Kong, she said the destination should capitalise on her “unique position” as gateway to the Greater Bay Area – a region that connects Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau – to rebuild the industry.
She sees value in playing up what the Greater Bay Area has to offer for leisure and business travellers.
For now, she said, business events in Hong Kong will continue with their virtual or hybrid formats to overcome social restrictions and travel inconveniences.