HKTB Unveils ‘Open House Hong Kong’

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) hosted an online forum entitled “Beyond COVID-19: Global Tourism’s New Normal” – the first event of its kind focusing on the post-pandemic tourism prospects for Hong Kong, Mainland, Asia, and the world.

More than 4,000 tourism industry representatives registered for the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s (HKTB) Beyond COVID-19 Global Tourism’s New Normal online forum which focused on the post-pandemic prospects for Hong Kong, Mainland China, Asia and the world.

The event featured global industry leaders sharing insights into the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on travel, how the industry should respond and trends to expect as people begin traveling again in the post-pandemic period.

In his opening remarks, HKTB chairman, Dr. YK Pang emphasized the importance of restoring consumer confidence.

“As an industry, our central mission must be to give every traveler the confidence and reassurance that their trip is safe from start to finish. 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,” Dr. Pang told the forum.

He also highlighted initiatives that Hong Kong’s tourism industry has taken to stay ahead of the curve in containing the spread of the pandemic, and announced that the HKTB will work with partners to create “Open House Hong Kong” – a unique and region-leading travel platform that will tell the world when Hong Kong is a COVID-safe destination ready to welcome back visitors and provide travellers with attractive offerings and exciting experiences.

And Dr. Pang invited trade partners from around the world to support the platform by providing enticing offers for traveling to Hong Kong for visitors from every continent.

Seven internationally-respected speakers representing different sectors of the travel industry discussed the latest consumer sentiments and behavior, and gave their insights into the challenges confronting the industry.

Steve Saxon, Partner, McKinsey & Company, observed during the forum that: “COVID-19 is a major humanitarian challenge. Yet there are implications for the wider economy and businesses. For instance, USD $0.9 trillion to $1.2 trillion has been lost in export revenues from tourism worldwide. While global tourism may return to previous levels in 2022, China, Indonesia, and the US stand out in optimism, with travel in China coming back to around half of the previous levels currently.”

“However,” Saxon continued, “traveller confidence is still low, and recovery is slower than expected. On the other hand, there is a major opportunity to capitalize on domestic travel and younger and family travellers, as most consumers are expecting to travel less – especially internationally – after COVID-19. China, the UK, and Germany are among those with greatest potential in domestic travel.”

Hermione Joye, Sector Lead, Travel & Vertical Search APAC, Google, pointed out that: “COVID-19 has led to a generational shift in the way the world operates, the travel industry almost came to a halt with global interest in travel dropping 3 times of that of pre-COVID times (based on search data). As a result, there is no longer a predictable normal when it comes to how consumers behave, and this is particularly true when it comes to the way they are thinking about travel. I am looking forward to sharing trends, consumer insights and principles that could help marketers respond in the ‘new normal’.”

Gloria Guevara, president & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), told the virtual gathering that: “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 USD 5.5 trillion to Travel & Tourism GDP worldwide. 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. Our recently launched ‘Safe Travels’ stamp will enable travellers to recognise the businesses and destinations worldwide which have implemented the WTTC global protocols and will encourage the return of ‘Safe Travels’ around the world. It will, in turn, enable the Travel & Tourism sector to reopen for business and move in a coordinated approach.”

And IATA’s director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac said that: “The revival of the travel and tourism sector is vital. Millions of livelihoods depend on it. As some parts of the world begin to reopen their economies, I have no doubt that people will still want to travel. 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 COVID-19 transmission when traveling 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.”