Commentary: Lifting travel curbs may not revitalise Hong Kong economy

It may not be until 2025 that UK tourist numbers can fully recover. Likewise, Hong Kong’s tourism sector may take years to heal.

At the same time, long-term factors such as the city’s image and competitiveness take away from Hong Kong’s allure for leisure and business travellers. They are not factors that changing COVID-19 policies could affect.

Hong Kong is slow to reopen itself to travellers compared to many countries. It also still has COVID-19 restrictions after the latest review, such as mandatory mask-wearing and showing vaccination proof to enter restaurants.

Hong Kong’s most recent easing of COVID-19 measures appears to be influenced by China. It is unclear whether the local government believes it is the right time to reopen Hong Kong, as officials have previously fiercely defended the strict measures.

Following Chinese policies could help Hong Kong connect with China, but it takes more to link up to the world. Only when officials have the empathy to understand that people wish to return to normal after three years of the pandemic can they implement appropriate policies.

Jacky Leung is an award-winning journalist who has worked in multiple Hong Kong TV and radio news stations. He is currently based in London.

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