Tourism and hotel industries call for relief funds

Representatives of the tourism and hotel industries are calling on the government to allocate around HK$1 billion to help the sectors get through the fifth wave of the pandemic.

They made the call after Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government will on Friday announce details of a new round of funding support for businesses, noting that around HK$4 billion is left in the anti-epidemic fund.

Speaking to reporters, the industry leaders said the fifth wave of coronavirus infections has dealt yet another blow to their already hard-hit businesses, with local tours, “cruises to nowhere” and hotel room bookings cancelled.

The executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, Michael Li, said sales from room bookings at quarantine hotels have dropped by 30 to 50 percent since the government banned flights from overseas places from last Saturday.

He said staycation businesses have also taken a hit due to the Covid outbreak and he hopes the government will allocate a fair amount of funding to the hotel industry.

“I think the chief executive should understand that we’re experiencing a very difficult period. Even though we have some staycation business, some quarantine business, we’re making just enough, or not enough money to make a living.”

The chairwoman of the Travel Industry Council, Gianna Hsu, meanwhile, said she hopes the government will dish out a one-off subsidy of between HK$150,000 and HK$200,000 to each travel agency, as well as additional subsidies to workers at larger agencies for a period of six months.

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Pak-leung said he hopes the government will give the sector HK$1 billion and allow local tours to resume as soon as the pandemic is under control.