HK MICE stakeholders laud relaxation of entry rules, but recovery conditions still not optimal

There is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel for Hong Kong (pictured)

Business events stakeholders in Hong Kong have hailed the government’s decision to relax entry restrictions good news, having done away with the city’s 0+3 quarantine arrangements on December 14.

However, many other Covid-related limitations and rules are still in place, continuing to pose a challenge for stakeholders to sell the destination to overseas buyers.

There is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel for Hong Kong (pictured)

According to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management)’s managing director, Monica Lee-Müller, this relaxation in measures is an important step the business events industry has been waiting for.

Similarly, general manager of DMC Momentous Asia Travel & Events, Doris Lam, called the relaxation “good news”.

Having just returned from IBTM World, Lam shared that her European clients have shown interest in visiting Hong Kong, but she does not have any solid leads on groups with intention to travel.

As such, she does not expect a surge in visitors over the next few months, and remains hopeful that in time, all Covid-related restrictions will be completely lifted.

Right now, her focus is on developing “new and interesting products”, as well as updating their lists as some attractions, like the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, no longer exist.

Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association’s chairman, Stuart Bailey, called the removal of the Amber code restriction a “big step forward that will help with the resumption of MICE activity”, and expects the convention and exhibition sectors to rebound by mid-2023.

“However, there are still some hurdles to overcome. Issues that remain are the testing regime that remains in place for arrivals, and another test on day two. If found positive, visitors are quarantined to their hotel rooms for five days and cannot leave the city,” Bailey explained.

The other major issue is the prolonged closure of China’s border, where many trade exhibitions in Hong Kong are reliant on Chinese participants.

Still, Bailey remains optimistic that solutions can be found in due time, as the association is closely working with the government to remove the last remaining obstacles.

For Katerina Tam, director of International Conference Consultants, she expects business events groups to return to Hong Kong from 2Q2023. However, one “stumbling block” is that banquet group sizes are still limited, which she hopes to see it relaxed soon.

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