While Hong Kong will allow entry for non-residents from May 1, ending a long 25-month suspension of overseas arrivals since March 25, 2020, travel and tourism professionals in the destination say maintaining a mandatory seven-day quarantine for arriving travelers will hamper the potential for recovery.
Jennifer Cronin, president of Wharf Hotels, told TTG Asia that while the decision is a positive step in the right direction, “it’s not far enough to kick-start arrivals in significant numbers.”
She noted that the mandatory quarantine underway in Hong Kong in a world that is opening up more easily will not put the destination on the list of business and leisure travelers.
“There is no doubt (that the reopening of borders for non-residents) reduces the burden on Hong Kong and expatriate families to reconnect from a cost and time perspective, but until ( mandatory quarantine) is removed completely, Hong Kong will continue to lag behind our Asian counterparts,” Cronin added.
Offering a more positive view, China Travel Service (Hong Kong), Chairman and Tourism Legislator Perry Yiu, said Hong Kong’s easing measures have benefited business travel, “as many expats or men are able to return now and handle urgent matters”.
However, Arrow Travel Managing Director Tommy Tam warned that the limited number of Designated Quarantine Hotels (DQHs) in Hong Kong will be a further obstacle to the resumption of tourism in Hong Kong. Even if travelers wanted to visit Hong Kong, they would have to compete for DHQ rooms with the wave of foreign students returning home for their summer holidays from May to July.
“It will not be easy (for travelers) to book (a DQH),” he said.
Hong Kong has increased its number of quarantine hotels to cope with the return of Hong Kong residents and the arrival of foreign domestic workers. Royal Pacific Hotel, The Kowloon Hotel and Cordis, Hong Kong recently converted to DQH, injecting some 2,000 rooms into current supply as of mid-April.
From May 1, four hotels currently used to quarantine foreign domestic helpers will also start accepting returning Hong Kong residents from places other than China and Macau. These are Courtyard by Marriott Hong Kong Sha Tin, iclub Ma Tau Wai Hotel, O’Hotel and Rambler Garden Hotel. They will increase the inventory with 1,600 rooms, bringing the total quarantine room inventory to over 14,000 rooms in 45 DQHs.