TORONTO — It’s no secret that Canadians have long had a love affair with Hong Kong.
In 2019, prior to the pandemic, the destination welcomed 55,912,609 total visitors, 318,479 of whom were Canadians. Before that, in the first six months of 2018, Hong Kong recorded a 10.1% year-on-year growth in visitor arrivals, with Canada seeing an increase of 4.8% and a total of 23,147 Canadians in the month of June alone, compared to 22,417 in the same month the previous year, a 2.8% increase.
Hong Kong was definitely on an upward trajectory – until the pandemic hit in early 2020. And like all other destinations around the world, international tourist arrivals came to a full stop.
But now, after more than two years living with COVID-19, where is Hong Kong now in terms of recovery? Is the destination open? Are cases on the decline? And what do travel agents need to know? We check in with Michael Lim, Director, Canada, Central & South Americas at the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) to discuss the destination’s reopening plans.
Can you confirm whether Hong Kong is currently open to Canadian travellers?
“Hong Kong residents from Canada can now enter the city beginning April 1, subject to testing and quarantine requirements. As this is a developing situation, we encourage you to refer to this website for the latest entry requirements to Hong Kong.
“You may also copy and paste this link to your browser:” https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/inbound-travel.html
What is the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong like right now? Are cases on the decline?
“As of April 4, Hong Kong has seen a 48% week-over-week decline in new confirmed cases. For information on the latest situation of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, please see:” https://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/local_situation_covid19_en.pdf
Is there a timeline or reopening plan in place for Hong Kong?
“Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has formulated a plan to prepare for the resumption of quarantine-free travel through phased promotional campaigns to attract visitors to return to Hong Kong.
“Upon travel resumption, HKTB will offer deals and various travel experiences that will delight our guests. In addition, HKTB will organise mega familiarisation trips for trade partners, press and social media influencers.”
What can you tell us about airlift from Canada this year?
“Cathay Pacific has informed us that CX has restarted its flight to Hong Kong starting this month.
“For more accurate and recent information on flights to Hong Kong, please see https://www.hongkongairport.com/en/
“For information about Cathay Pacific flight:” https://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_CA/flying-with-us/cathaycare/where-we-fly-now/latest-where-we-fly-now.html
We’ve all heard about China’s zero-tolerance policy for COVID-19. Does Hong Kong have a similar approach?
“HKTB has launched the Anti-Epidemic Hygiene Measures Certification Scheme in partnership with the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA), providing unified guidelines on hygiene measures for tourism-related industries to bolster visitors’ confidence in travelling to Hong Kong.
“Click here to find out about the Anti-Epidemic Hygiene Measures Certification Scheme.
“With regards to Hong Kong’s response to COVID-19, please see:” https://www.brandhk.gov.hk/docs/default-source/factsheets/hong-kong-themes/2022-04-01/factsheet-covid-19-en.pdf
What’s open and closed in Hong Kong? What’s the local scene like?
“This is also a developing situation. Again, for information on the social distancing measures in Hong Kong, please see:” https://www.brandhk.gov.hk/docs/default-source/factsheets/hong-kong-themes/2022-04-01/factsheet-covid-19-en.pdf
How is HKTB working with Canadian travel agents this year?
“We have continuously kept travel agents informed, updated and engaged through various communications, including our monthly newsletter and virtual experiences.
“We also invite agents to become Hong Kong Specialist through our online training programme which they can complete on their own time.”
What is your takeaway message for Canadian travellers? What do you want them to know about Hong Kong at this stage of the pandemic?
“HKTB has never stopped our efforts to bring Canadians back to Hong Kong. We will also continue working very closely with our valued travel partners for the reopening.
“Before we are fully open to all travellers, we invite everyone to join us and explore what Hong Kong offers virtually and stay tuned for all the new experiences.”
What’s new in Hong Kong for 2022?
“There is always something new and exciting in Hong Kong. In terms of attractions, HKTB launched “West Kowloon” last year as part of the “Hong Kong Neighbourhoods” to highlight the district’s rich heritage and vibrant street life in Yau Ma Tei and Jordan along with its two new world-class museums. M+, One of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, opened in November 2021 and it is dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. On the other hand, Hong Kong Palace Museum, scheduled to open in mid-2022, aspires to become one of the world’s leading cultural institutions committed to the study and appreciation of Chinese art and culture, while advancing dialogue among world civilizations through international partnerships.
“Located at the heart of Hong Kong’s most prominent commercial district, Central Market was first built in 1939 and it has been for decades a hub for various commercial activities. Re-opening in August 2021, the 80-year old Central Market is now restored and revitalized to become a “Playground for All”, providing retail, F&B, green open space, and community spaces for a variety of art exhibitions, performances, and cultural activities.
“As for hotels, In the last couple of years, we saw the opening of multiple hotels, including St. Regis and The Hari in Hong Kong.
“More hotels are set to open in Hong Kong, including The Silveri Hong Kong – MGallery, The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong and the re-opening of Regent Hong Kong. The Silveri is set to open in the summer of 2022 and will bring the verdant beauty of the hills of Lantau Island inside, where one can experience a respite and retreat that is unexpected in a city hotel. The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong is located on the south side of Hong Kong island and adjacent to the theme park Ocean Park Hong Kong. A sustainable, oceanfront luxury resort offering a relaxing and tranquil retreat for every kind of traveller, it is set to open in Hong Kong soon. Regent Hong Kong, formerly known as InterContinental Hong Kong, will also re-open and return to the Victoria Harbour in 2022.
“In terms of Events, in celebration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s 25th anniversary this year, the event line-up in the city this year is stronger than ever. Events to look forward to in the second half of the year include a special edition of A Symphony of Lights in July, the return of the physical Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival and the Hong Kong Cyclothon on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in the last quarter. The city is also expecting the return of other signature events as well as large-scale events such as Hong Kong Sevens in November.”
For more information on travel to Hong Kong go to www.discoverhongkong.com.