Abrupt changes in quarantine rules for entry into Hong Kong thwarted travel plans and created chaos for designated quarantine hotels (DQH).
Citing concerns about the more transmissible Delta variant, the Hong Kong government announced on August 17 that it would impose a minimum 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from medium-risk countries from August 20, canceling a plan to shorten the period for those who test positive for Covid-19 antibodies.
In addition, it abruptly moved 15 more countries into its high-risk category, including the United States, France and the United Arab Emirates. The quarantine period for vaccinated travelers arriving from these countries was extended from 14 to 21 days, while unvaccinated travelers who had stayed in one of these countries in the previous 21 days were not allowed to enter in Hong Kong.
This political shift has left DQHs like Ovolo Southside receiving hundreds of calls and emails from guests requesting either an extension of their stay or the cancellation of their entire reservation, said Sonesh Mooi, manager. of Ovolo Hotels operations.
Until last week, the majority of hotel guests requested to change their reservation by August 20.
Hong Kong Hotel Owners Federation executive director Michael Li said authorities’ decision to move 15 countries to its high-risk category has left quarantine hotels inundated with requests from passengers to change their dates. arrival before August 20.
The sudden change resulted in a temporary shortage of hotel rooms and disrupted travel plans for hundreds of people, Li said. “Travelers’ desire to go to Hong Kong would be dampened if the government continued to change its policy.” , he added.
The government announced on July 30 the list of DQHs for the fifth cycle of the Designated Quarantine Hotel (DQH) Scheme. While the fourth cycle had 35 DQH (10,800 rooms), there will be a total of 36 hotels (around 10,000 rooms) – with Ovolo Central added to the list – under the fifth cycle from September 1 to November 30. .
The extension of the quarantine requirement means higher occupancy rates at DQHs like the Nina Hotel Island South.
“Although the September-November period is not a peak season compared to summer, we are experiencing very high demand (during this period) due to the announcement,” said a spokesperson for the Nina Hotel. Island South. The hotel expects full occupancy until October.
When asked if the list of DHQs will be further expanded to meet growing demand, a government spokesperson told TTG Asia: “The impact of the tightening agreement on aggregate demand for rooms of 36 DQH during the fifth cycle remains to be seen.
“The government will continue to closely monitor the demand for hotel rooms and consider the need to vacate some 1,500 reserve rooms in individual DQHs if and where necessary.”