HK prepares for surge in travel

HONG KONG: The country is readying for a surge in travel after the global financial hub ended mandatory Covid-19 hotel quarantine for international arrivals yesterday, with travel companies reporting 10-fold jumps in requests.

The curbs were lifted for the first time in more than two-and-a-half years after the city’s leader, John Lee, said last week that such arrivals could return home or seek accommodation of their choice, but had to self-monitor and do multiple tests.

“I have been waiting for this for almost three years,” said 58-year-old Hong Kong resident, Barbara Van Moppes. “The rest of the world has opened up and so Hong Kong needs to open up now, because it’s such a fantastic place to live.”

All international arrivals in the Chinese special administrative region had previously been forced to stay for as long as three weeks in hotel quarantine at their own expense, though the period was gradually cut to three days.

But yesterday’s change still leaves Hong Kong far behind much of the world in dropping curbs. International arrivals are barred from bars and restaurants for three days.

Still, Hong Kong’s Travel Industry Council expects outbound travel to surge as much as 50% for the next few months.

Growth would be capped by the number of outbound flights, however, while inbound tourism was not likely to grow by much, inhibited by the existing curbs.

Travel website Expedia Hong Kong said searches for Japan surged to 10 times last week while those for Taiwan almost doubled over the prior 14 days. — Reuters

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