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Visitor Arrivals to Hong Kong Growing

Visitor Arrivals to Hong Kong Growing

Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong exceeded 2 million in March for the first time since January 2020, provisional figures from the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) have shown. Since the city's borders were closed in March 2020, it was the first complete month without any significant Covid-related travel restrictions in effect.

Representatives from the sector cautioned that the tourist industry's resurgence is threatened by a 40% workforce deficit in the aviation sector.

In March, 2.45 million preliminary visitor arrivals were registered in Hong Kong, which is 68% more than in February. According to HKTB data, the amount is still about 42% lower than in March 2019.

The first quarter's inbound visitor numbers likewise remained substantially below pre-pandemic averages. 4.41 million visitors entered the city between January and March, which is under 30% of the quarterly average from 2017 to 2019. The colder months leading up to the Lunar New Year have always been Hong Kong's busiest travel times.

A little more than 80% of all visitors in March came from the Chinese mainland. Despite a boost from international cruise arrivals, tourists from long-haul markets, who normally stay longer than average and tend to spend more money, made up roughly 5% of March visitor arrivals.

Tour operators focused on long-haul markets recently told HKFP that it would take more than free flights to lure such tourists back to the city after protests and the pandemic. In February, the government launched a multibillion dollar campaign, “Hello Hong Kong,” to try and re-establish the city as a tourism destination, part of which involved giving away 500,000 return flights.

Representatives of the aviation sector warned Hong Kong last Thursday that if it didn't bring in more employees, it would lose its standing as an international air hub, according to RTHK.

The manpower shortage would be a major obstacle for Hong Kong’s post-pandemic recovery, head of the Airline Operators’ Committee, Walter Li, said.

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