In what may appear like a belated move, Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has finally rolled out a standardised hygiene protocol for tourism-related sectors to "establish a safe, healthy tourism image" for the city.
Launched in partnership with the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA), the accreditation programme seeks to provide unified guidelines on hygiene and anti-epidemic measures for tourism-related industries, with the aim of bolstering public confidence for out-of-home consumption and international travel into Hong Kong.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a new normal to the tourism landscape, and public health and safety have become a priority for visitors. Many international travel and tourism organisations have already put in place hygiene and anti-epidemic guidelines, and standardising hygiene measures for each sector can spread to visitors the message that different sectors across Hong Kong value their commitment to hygiene and safety,” said Dr YK Pang, chairman, HKTB.
HKTB's new hygiene standard for tourism operators is not unlike Singapore Tourism Board's SG Clean and Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration: SHA certification schemes, only that the HKQAA standard comes months after the moves of other regional NTOs in Asia.
How the programme will work
According to HKTB, over 1,800 local businesses have already expressed interest in participation in HKQAA, which will roll out in two phases.
Applications for phase one began on 8 October, covering shopping malls, hotels, attractions, inbound tour operators, and restaurants and retail outlets under the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme.
Phase two is expected to launch about three months after, covering cross-boundary coach companies, tour coach companies, MICE venues, and other retail and dining merchants. To relieve the financial burden on trade, HKTB will fully sponsor application fees for qualified businesses.
Thereafter, public may easily identify the list of businesses and outlets who have passed the assessment via a designated logo displayed physically at venues, or at HKQAA’s website. Authorities will also conduct random visits for continued inspections.
In addition, as a step of transparency in a time where the public are scrutinising more than ever, all details submitted by qualified organisations will be uploaded to a designated website and left open for a year.
“While restaurants and retailers under the QTS Scheme have already actively improved their hygiene and anti-epidemic measures, having a standardised protocol will certainly boost the confidence of the public and visitors in enjoying the services provided by the participants. I hope chain stores and individual outlets will adopt the protocol and foster a healthy and safe consumption environment in the whole city,” said Simon Wong, chairman of the Quality Tourism Services Association.