Hong Kong Tourism Board’s new executive director Dane Cheng starts in earnest this week, vowing to “lead our team to deal with the challenges and work closely with our trade partners to maintain Hong Kong’s status as a preferred travel destination.”

He has his job cut out for him. Arrivals fell 39 percent to 3.56 million in August, over August 2018, according to latest available data from the board, sending hotel occupancy nosediving to 66 percent. The International Air Transport Association reported Hong Kong’s passenger traffic in August declined 15.4 percent over August 2018, warning that “any further prolongation of the disturbances (protests) may induce airlines to more drastically change the amount of services, either in terms of seats and/or frequencies.”

Cheng reiterated that the city has strong fundamentals and offers a diversity of unique experiences that have helped it through many challenges in upholding its status as a world-class destination.

He replaced long-time Hong Kong tourism chief Anthony Lau, who decided not to renew his contract, which expired July 31, to spend more time with his family.

Cheng was not available to speak directly to Skift.

A statement revealed that one reason Cheng was picked for the job is his marketing chops and connections. After graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1986, he joined Cathay Pacific Airways and held senior positions at the head office and various regions. He was director of sales and marketing overseeing the group’s worldwide passenger businesses.

Prior to joining the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Cheng was an executive director of Hang Lung Properties, overseeing the group’s service delivery, including property services, customer experience, and digital transformation.

Hong Kong Tourism Board Chairman Dr. Pang Yiu-kai said, “I am confident that Mr. Cheng’s profound knowledge of the Hong Kong, mainland, and international markets, combined with his excellent management skills, will help the [tourism board] continue to promote Hong Kong worldwide with effective marketing strategy.”

The chairman also hinted of a “far-reaching global promotion” in due course.

“Later, when the time is right, he (Cheng) will join forces with the travel trade and other sectors to launch a far-reaching global promotion, attracting visitors from every continent back to Hong Kong and rebuilding Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the world’s leading travel destinations,” he said.

Photo Credit: Dane Cheng, executive director, Hong Kong Tourism Board. Photo credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board.