Commentary: 500,000 free plane tickets won’t be enough to revive Hong Kong’s ailing tourism sector



Hong Kong – dubbed the city that never sleeps – has long been an attractive tourist destination for many reasons. The city is a shopping and dining paradise with many international brands and 71 Michelin starred restaurants. The quality of service and the crossroads of Eastern and Western cultures are also very appealing.

However, the strength of the Hong Kong dollar – which has been pegged to the US dollar since 1983 – has yet to give tourists a warm welcome.

Hong Kong has always been an expensive visit – before the pandemic, a three-star hotel room cost around HK$1,000 a night. And it is even more expensive for mainlanders and tourists from all over the world to stay, eat and shop due to exchange rates.

Other benefits also fade. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and even Chengdu and Chongqing have most of Hong Kong’s international brands. In addition, the quality of service is no longer guaranteed, with hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong workers having migrated over the past three years.

The fall in Cathay Pacific’s ranking among airlines is a signal. The carrier cut 6,000 positions during the pandemic and is now facing unprecedented staffing and training shortages. The carrier has also lost 1,500 experienced pilots due to a “ruthless permanent wage cut”, and it will take the airline years to restore pre-pandemic flight schedules, the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers have said. Association in a statement last month.

While the carrier has announced plans to hire 4,000 people to meet operational needs over the next 18-24 months, the base salary of 9,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$1,148) makes it difficult to attract new hires, The Standard reported Cathay Pacific Airways flight attendants. Union as said last month.

It’s hard to imagine how Cathay, which has won several customer service excellence awards in the past, will be able to maintain such high standards of service.


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