Recently, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) hosted a global online forum that focused on post-pandemic tourism prospects for Hong Kong, Mainland, and international travel markets.

Online event ‘Beyond Covid-19: Global Tourism’s New Normal’ was attended by the global industry participants from tourism and travel companies, hospitality, aviation regulatory body, MICE, media among others.

The event saw speakers from different sectors discussing the latest consumer sentiments and behaviour. Insights on challenges confronting the industry and on how the industry should respond, and the trends to expect as people begin travelling again post-pandemic were key talking points of the forum.

HKTB chairman Dr YK Pang emphasised the importance of restoring consumer confidence. “As an industry, our central mission must be to give every traveller the confidence and reassurance that their trip is safe from start to finish.

“Our cooperation must cross geographical and business boundaries. We must pool our knowledge and expertise and draw on our collective ingenuity to navigate the challenges that lie ahead of us.”

Dr Pang also highlighted several initiatives adopted by HKTB and announced that the tourism board would team up with the HKSAR Government and trade partners to create “Open House Hong Kong” – a travel platform to tell the world that Hong Kong is a Covid-safe destination ready to welcome back visitors with attractive offerings and exciting experiences.

Elaborating more on the tourism sector, Gloria Guevara, president and chief executive officer, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said, “The pandemic has had a devastating global socio-economic impact. Our recent research shows that more than 197 million jobs are at risk, which would cause a loss of more than US$ 5.5 trillion to travel and tourism GDP worldwide.

“Our recently launched Safe Travels stamp will enable travellers to recognise the businesses and destinations worldwide which have implemented the WTTC global protocols and will encourage the return of Safe Travels around the world.”

On the aviation front, Alexandre de Juniac, director-general and chief executive officer, International Air Transport Association (IATA) stressed that the revival of the travel and tourism sector is vital. He said, “Millions of livelihoods depend on it. As some parts of the world begin to reopen their economies, I have no doubt that people will still want to travel. But adapting to the realities of Covid-19 and rebuilding people’s confidence is a challenge that must be met head-on with cooperation.

“Aviation is a case in point. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) developed global guidelines to mitigate the risk of transmission when travelling by air. Now governments need to align in leading the implementation with the full support of the industry.”

In terms of hospitality, speaker Peter C. Borer, chief operating officer, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels said that the industry will move forward towards a ‘new normal’, with unprecedented health and safety measures in place.

Talking about the MICE industry, Kai Hattendorf, managing director and chief executive officer, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) adds, “Business events will become more digital. But the main element that is driving success is and remains the direct exchange, the face-to-face meeting. Clicks don’t discuss deals, and eyeballs don’t sign orders.”