HONG KONG — Over 4,000 viewers tuned in earlier this week for the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s online forum, ‘Beyond COVID-19: Global Tourism’s New Normal.’
The industry-leading forum on June 24, hosted by HKTB’s Chairman, Dr. YK Pang, focused on the post-pandemic tourism prospects for Hong Kong, Mainland, Asia and the world, with special insight into the effects of the pandemic on travel and how the industry should respond.
In his opening remarks, Pang emphasized the importance of restoring consumer confidence: “As an industry, our central mission must be to give every traveller the confidence and reassurance that their trip is safe from start to finish,” he said. “Our cooperation must cross geographical and business boundaries. We must pool our knowledge and expertise and draw on our collective ingenuity to navigate the challenges that lie ahead of us.”
Pang also highlighted the various initiatives taken by the Hong Kong tourism industry to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These include working with partners to create ‘Open House Hong Kong’, a region-leading travel platform that will tell the world when Hong Kong is a COVID-safe destination and what attractive offerings will be on offer. He invited trade partners from around the world to provide enticing offers for travel to Hong Kong for visitors from every continent.
In addition to Pang, the forum invited seven internationally-respected speakers from various sectors of the travel industry to provide their insights into current challenges. Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) called all the entire Travel & Tourism sector to join forces in support of recovery.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating global socio-economic impact. Our recent research shows that more than 197 million jobs are at risk, which would cause a loss of more than US$5.5 trillion to Travel & Tourism GDP worldwide,” she said. “It is vital for the survival of the Travel & Tourism sector that we work together and map out the road to recovery through coordinated actions, and rebuild the confidence that people need to begin travelling once again.”
Speaking for the airline industry, Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA, also highlighted the need for collaboration at this time.
“As some parts of the world begin to reopen their economies, I have no doubt that people will still want to travel,” he said. “But adapting to the realities of COVID-19 and rebuilding people’s confidence is a challenge that must be met head on with cooperation. Aviation is a case in point.
“The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) developed global guidelines to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission when travelling by air. Now governments need to align in leading the implementation with the full support of the industry. We will only be successful by working together.”
Noting the importance of safety for guests, Peter C. Borer, COO, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd., said that the hospitality industry must move forward with unprecedented health measures in place.
“The hotel industry was already moving towards digitization, artificial intelligence and robotics, and the health crisis has accelerated this trend,” he said. “In the short term, we must regain the confidence and the trust of our guests and reassure them that they are safe when they stay with us. However, in the long term, the fundamentals of hospitality will not change and guests will always appreciate personalized service.
A recording of “Beyond COVID-19: Global Tourism’s New Normal” is available for viewing. Each registered account can view the recording on one device at a time. To register for the video click here.