In a sector that’s been devoid of good news of late, Hong Kong’s travel sector, particularly travel advisors, got a welcome boost from the government this week.
Financial secretary Paul Chan announced a raft of measures on Tuesday to help various industries survive in Hong Kong, including travel and tourism. The HK$2 billion ($255 million) package is a response to the economic hardship caused by months of ongoing protests, which have seen bookings drop as much as 58 percent according to some figures. Funding will also go to sectors like restaurant, taxis, and retail, with Bloomberg noting that further subsidies for airlines and hotels may follow.
Financed by the government and administered by both the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (a trade group for travel advisors), part of the funds will be used to set up a travel agent incentive scheme. According to the council, agents will be incentivized with a HK$120 ($15) payment for every inbound overnight visitor they receive, and HK$100 ($12.75) for each outbound traveler they sell a a package tour or air ticket to. Each travel agent can earn the incentive for up to 500 inbound and outbound travelers, and the scheme will operate from late November through March 2020.
Though the potential for increased earnings will certainly come as a relief, so too will the symbolism of the move, said chair of the Travel Industry Council, Jason Wong. “The travel industry has been gravely affected by the protests, which have lasted for over four months,” Wong said in a statement. “I believe the morale of traders will be boosted this time as the Government is going to dish out cash to directly help travel agents, which will be benefited.”
Though the measures will hardly mark the beginning of a recovery stage, they may allow some travel advisors to plod along a little longer. Analysts are expecting a technical recession when Hong Kong releases its advance third quarter growth figures at the end of this month.