People are being driven away from HK, says Carrie Lam

Hong Kong needs to fix its “negative image”, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Thursday, as she complained that some people are driving others away from the city.

At a Legco question and answer session, lawmakers repeatedly asked Lam when the border with the mainland will be fully reopened.

The CE responded by saying the conditions to do so aren’t quite right yet, and the SAR needs to boost its vaccination rate first.

Without naming any names, she said some people are driving others away from the city.

“In the past few years, there have been people in Hong Kong who were actually driving away visitors from Hong Kong. There were people who wanted to come to Hong Kong for travel or business, but then they had very poor impression of Hong Kong when they came here,” Lam said.

“So if we want to strive for more policy support from the Central People’s Government in helping our tourism and retail sector, we must first improve our own image. We want to change the negative perception mainland people have about Hong Kong.”

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing also asked Lam to address comments by Labour and Welfare chief Law Chi-kwong on Wednesday that those working in the sector should consider looking for other jobs.

Law said the pandemic will last for a few more years and the government cannot keep subsidising the tourism sector.

Responding to Yiu, Lam said the tourism industry is one of the key pillars of the SAR’s economy and the sector has a “rosy future”.

Lam said she attaches great importance to Hong Kong’s tourism industry, and she is in discussion with the mainland’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism about how to gradually re-open the border to revive travel.