Hong Kong resumes receiving tourists, some residents lament “too late”-CNN.co.jp

Hong Kong resumes receiving tourists, some residents lament “too late”-CNN.co.jp

Hong Kong has begun to receive tourists in stages, but whether it will return to the hustle and bustle of the past is unknown/CNN

Published on Tuesday 2022.10.04 16:22 JST

(CNN) Tung Choi Street in Kowloon, Hong Kong, famous for its night market, was once one of the busiest tourist attractions in Hong Kong. “There are no tourists now,” murmured Chen, who was selling earrings and necklaces at a stall.

These three years have been difficult. Before the pandemic, the store was open until 10:00 pm, but now it closes at 7:00 pm.

Mandatory quarantine measures in response to the coronavirus have hit tourist-dependent shops hard. Chen hopes the situation will change soon after the measures end.

Hong Kong has begun to accept tourists in stages. First, he lifted the mandatory three-day quarantine in hotels, then announced a global financial summit in November. Through these measures, Hong Kong hopes to restore Hong Kong’s status as an international financial and tourism center. But some locals lamented that it was too late.

Residents who have endured more than two years of strict measures welcomed the lifting of mandatory quarantine measures.

In the strictest case, travelers to Hong Kong must stay in a hotel for 21 days at their own expense. Only Hong Kong residents are allowed to enter. Travelers from countries and territories with high numbers of COVID-19 cases are housed in government-run facilities.

As a result, the number of tourists traveling to and from Hong Kong hit a record low.

Chen sells earrings and necklaces at a stall in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

After the quarantine was announced on Sept. 30, Hong Kong residents flocked to airline booking sites. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways has set up a “waiting room” on its booking website, with waiting times of up to 30 minutes.

On Expedia, an online travel booking site, searches for flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo have increased nine-fold and flights to Osaka have increased 11-fold.

However, the level of interest in flights to Hong Kong remained unchanged.

Travelers are still not allowed to eat or drink in restaurants and bars for three days after the quarantine is lifted. Measures such as requiring proof of vaccinations or negative tests before boarding a flight could deter tourists.

In November, the Sevens will be held in Hong Kong. The event, held every year since 1976 before the pandemic except for the last two years, drew fans from all over the world. However, it is still doubtful how many viewers can be gathered this time despite various conditions.

You can drink at the venue, but not eat. Spectators must wear masks at all times, except when drinking.

Countries such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have lifted longstanding travel barriers in recent weeks, making them more attractive to international tourists.

The once popular cafe Meitu restaurant will also close this year

Another cause for concern is the ongoing zero-corona policy in mainland China. In 2019, before strict travel restrictions began, 78% of visitors to Hong Kong came from mainland China.

For restaurateur Maxence Travers, it was too late to reopen. Last year, a bar in the Tap Hang district of Hong Kong was forced to close down.

The bar, which opened nine years ago, could not withstand the 2019 protests and the coronavirus pandemic.

Traverse’s restaurant is just one of many that have closed due to the pandemic. Well-known Cantonese restaurants have also closed one after another.

Dr. Lo Chi-mao, Hong Kong’s director of health, said in an interview that “unless there is a new novel coronavirus, Hong Kong will remain open,” Travers said in an interview.

“I cried.” Travers argued that simply opening up Hong Kong would not be enough to compensate for his losses.

Hong Kong has begun to receive tourists gradually. Will tourists come back?

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