With the global economy starting to rebound in Asia and with the gradual easing of the pandemic situation in Hong Kong, Puneet Kumar, Director, South Asia, & Middle East, Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is further keen to raise the profile of Hong Kong with their Indian trade partners and share about the latest developments in the iconic city known for its world-famous cityscapes. HKTB also has a good number of initiatives like the ‘Hong Kong Convention Ambassador’ programme to help revitalise Hong Kong’s MICE industry and Great Outdoors Hong Kong campaign to highlight the city’s offering to its discerning travellers from across the globe.
– Manisha Patel
What does the future hold for outbound tourism from India to your destination?
For us, India’s importance is in its diverse traveller segments with varying travel intents. Over the years Hong Kong has successfully attracted leisure travellers, fly-cruise vacationers, Meetings and Incentive business groups and we are confident that with exciting tourism developments, new upcoming attractions and rejuvenating experiences Hong Kong is well-positioned for business recovery in all key segments from India once the travel resumes.
While the travel has taken a long pause between India and Hong Kong due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we filled this time to keep our prospects, friends in media, corporate clients and trade partners updated and engaged with Hong Kong. The HKTB launched 360 Hong Kong Moments; a bouquet of VR-enabled video stories to showcase the myriad experiences of Hong Kong. We also took creative initiatives such as experiential virtual tours during the HK Wine & Dine Festival, Chinese New Year and Wellness tour of Peng Chau Island to give an entertaining destination experience to our media and trade partners. We also updated and refreshed destination knowledge for our travel trade partners through multiple webinars that reached over 1900 travel professionals in the year 2020-21.
What gives you cause for optimism in these difficult times?
Love for travel among Indians has grown multiple folds despite pandemic-induced travel restrictions that limited their mobility. We are pleased to share that HK’s return to normalcy has garnered confidence and steady tourism recovery. Many attractions in the city are now open.
Also, cruising is back! Hong Kong residents can set sail from the spectacular Victoria Harbour and enjoy a host of unique Seacation experiences. To offer extra peace of mind, every precaution has been taken, including fully vaccinated crew and passengers onboard. Genting Dream Cruises has lined up a series of travel-themed festival and wellness experiences onboard the Genting Dream that restarted on 30 July. Genting Dream is offering 3D2N Super Summer Seacation departing Fridays and Wednesdays, as well as a 4D3N itinerary departing Sundays.
In Hong Kong, there is a strong prelude to MICE business recovery with the return of physical events and exhibition resumption. The vibrancy in the city’s exhibition scene demonstrated how Hong Kong continues cultivating business under the new normal – the Hong Kong Book Fair, the city’s largest annual fair, returned with fanfare this July with more than 830,000 visits recorded, about 85 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels, all under a new standard of stringent hygiene and seamless operations.
Boosted by the momentum of the vibrant physical event scene in the second quarter, over 30 exhibitions have been scheduled in Q3, almost double the number of exhibitions in Q2. Some are the largest of its kinds in the region, including the HOFEX, Asia’s leading food & hospitality trade show set to return in September.
Hong Kong has also been chosen as the host city for a number of international MICE events, including the city’s first-ever events of high strategic values and repeated events amidst the COVID-19 challenges, such as the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) World Cargo Symposium 2022, The Congress of the Asian Society of Transplantation (CAST) 2023 and some events which are largest of its kind, covering industries of medicine, technology, tourism, financial services and more. It demonstrates international event organisers’ confidence in Hong Kong as a strategic, safe and hygienic destination for high-profile business events. The HKTB will continue to proactively engage organisers to bid for hosting rights of major MICE events and step up efforts in attracting regional and international events with a view to maintaining Hong Kong’s status as The World’s Meeting Place.
When travel resumes, how is your destination working to offer a safe travel environment in both in leisure and MICE segments?
As a precursor to welcome the overseas visitors into Hong Kong, the HKTB launched the ‘Anti-epidemic Hygiene Measures Certification Scheme’ in partnership with the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA). Under this scheme, the tourism industry and related sectors will follow a standardised hygiene protocol to assure visitors of a safe and healthy stay, helping us establish a healthy and safe tourism image of Hong Kong and bolsters visitors’ confidence in traveling here. More than 2,500 organisations participated to strengthen public and visitor confidence in out-of-home consumption and travel.
For the leisure segment, the HKTB has planned a promotional campaign ‘Open House Hong Kong’ that encompasses a collection of exciting travel offers and in-town experiences with a view to telling the world that Hong Kong is ready to embrace visitors again. The campaign will be launched after cross-boundary travel resumes.
In our efforts for business recovery and market readiness, our MICE team has curated new incentive ideas/programmes such as:
New themed itineraries for incentives: To anticipate the resumption of travel, the team is developing new themed itineraries that answer the emerging trend of experiential, wellness and interest-based travel, such as CSR and wellness. Many new inspirational ideas and refreshed experiences are curated to enrich corporate Meetings and Incentive (M&I) groups’ itineraries and to encourage them to rediscover Hong Kong with a new lens.
Tactical campaign for M&I: Along with our Hong Kong industry partners, we will be curating exclusive offers and incentives under the [email protected] campaign to make it a rewarding experience for the visiting corporate delegates. The programme will further be enhanced with additional offers from hotels, a free ticket from an airline, attractions and more.
What are the tourism trends in your destination which are now being promoted with the Indians?
We are promoting Wellness and Great Outdoors of Hong Kong to satiate the growing love for nature and doing nature-based activities among Indians, Arts in Hong Kong and unique D-I-Y itineraries to help them self-explore to find themselves with a whole new perspective and of course later this year we will present West Kowloon Neighbourhood and its authentic local living culture to satisfy their strong curiosity to discover the culture and history of the place.
We are keen to pleasantly surprise our overseas visitors with a whole suite of rejuvenated tourism offerings such as iconic Victoria Harbour front, internationalised dining and shopping, wellness and green great outdoors, uniquely intangible city culture and exciting art scene, Hong Kong has it all!
What are the new and upcoming attractions in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong Disneyland has expanded its attractions and experiences, together with the new Castle of Magical Dreams, new daytime shows, and night time spectacular to appeal to families and different generations travelling together.
Ocean Park, Hong Kong will open in September 2021 the much-anticipated Water World Ocean Park Hong Kong – Asia’s first and only year-round, all-weather seaside water park. Water World Ocean Park is created for adventurers of all kinds to discover the five zones, each filled with its own unique spirit of fun and adventure. Within these five zones, there are 27 outdoor and indoor attractions, HK’s first-ever surf ride, nine dynamic water slides to several areas specially designed for adventure seekers.
West Kowloon neighbourhood promotion will be launched under the Hong Kong Neighbourhoods campaign tied in with the opening of the M+ museum, the visual culture venue in late 2021. The West Kowloon Cultural District and its surrounding area offer a very authentic local living culture and exhilarating art scene that would interest our overseas visitors.
We encourage visitors to explore the beauty of Hong Kong through arts. The HK art scene remains vibrant throughout the year with in-town happenings and to offer an immersive experience of the city HKTB curated 6 unique art itineraries that tick off all the routes for an artful rediscovery of Hong Kong. Some of the points of interest covered are:
Arts by the iconic Victoria Harbour– follow an 8-stop itinerary to some of the most interesting art and cultural hubs along the harbour including Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC), Ani-com [email protected]“Fun”, Wan Chai Waterfront Promenade, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA), Avenue of Stars, Xiqu Centre, West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) and kick-off your journey as a bona fide culture vulture.
A star-studded tour of cinematic scenes in Yau Tsim Mong District in particular, has served as inspiration, and set the scene, for numerous genres of films and music videos around the world, from K-pop to Hollywood blockbusters. Follow an 8-stop itinerary to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, Peninsula Hotel, Temple Street Archway, Temple Street Night Market, Broadway Cinematheque, Mong Kok Road Footbridge, Goldfish Market, Lui Seng Chun and steer through some of the coolest filming locations in this ever-bustling district.
The artsiest venues in Wong Chuk Hang have in recent times gained a reputation as one of the city’s most happening districts. Beyond the large factory facades that litter this neighbourhood are hidden cafes, world-class galleries, and art studios. Booming with creativity, these places form a thriving community that adds to Wong Chuk Hang’s distinctive charm.