Hong Kong stays the course and it’s full steam ahead for a locally
focused Christmas season. Although borders remain closed and 14- to
21-day quarantine restrictions are unchanged, the SAR is working towards
a gradual reopening, priority being China-Hong Kong borders before
international travel opens up next year.
Travel operators and hotel groups had already made a sharp pivot to
domestic tourism over a year ago to respond to the initial Covid-19
disruption. With Christmas and Lunar New Year holidays around the
corner, major players are maintaining a domestic business as usual
approach, and retail outlets have brought back the proverbial mall Santa
and launched glittery holiday-themed displays.
“[We] will maintain [our] agile approach with flexible strategies in
handling the volatile pandemic situation to drive the recovery of the
tourism industry,” said a spokesperson for Hong Kong Tourism Board
The HKTB had implemented a series of locally-focused promotions to
support the travel sector through domestic consumption in 2020, and it
will continue them for the foreseeable future. There are no plans to
press pause on its overseas campaigns, using the promotions as a route
to showing off the city’s tourism offerings to future visitors.
continue to work closely with industry members … to rebuild the local
ambience by encouraging locals to be the city’s own tourists,” the
spokesperson continued. "In visitor source markets, the HKTB also
strives to maintain Hong Kong’s visibility globally through new tourism
appeals and perspectives. At the same time, HKTB has worked unceasingly
with various partners to gear up for tourism resumption by enhancing
hygiene and service standards, and strengthening trade partnerships.”
On the ground, however, the immediate fear was that Omicron would
throw a wrench into holiday dining plans and the sustaining staycations
for local hotel operators, whose average 47% occupancy climbs on
weekends and holidays. That may be the case for travellers in some
quarters, but Hong Kong’s stringent strategy has largely insulated the
“It has allowed families to lead relatively normal lives here and for
most to be able to enjoy the festive season more normally than last
year while taking mandated precautions,” says Sander Looijen, Cluster
GM, Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung and the new Four Points by Sheraton
Hong Kong Tung Chung, designated as a quarantine hotel.
points to Sheratons’s regular training to back up its state-of-the-art
bio-protocols in keeping the hotels incident-free and safe. Among the
Sheraton’s holiday promotions for 2021 include a New Year celebration,
complete with Champagne countdown party.
Adam Hipp, MD of Cordis, Hong Kong, agrees, stating Cordis has also
stepped up health and safety training and precautions in light of both
higher traffic and Omicron. But optimism remains for the holiday period.
“We are receiving more bookings and enquiries. Local guests are
especially interested in our creative staycations packages, as well as
dining in our restaurants,” says Hipp.
Cordis has partnered the popular Ocean Park for a family-friendly
staycation that includes admission to the park for giant panda education
programmes, children’s amenities and a donation to the Ocean Park
At sea, cruise operators were finally able to tap into the staycation
sector in July. After an incident-free year of sailing from Singapore
and Taiwan, Genting launched its “Staycation at Sea” packages on Dream
Cruises’ Genting Dream, which welcomed over 50,000 guests in the five
months since. The cruise line has held Oktoberfest cruises as well as
Wine & Dine Festival programmes held in partnership with the annual
The operator’s current contingency is to follow the health department
regulations that have gotten it back on the high seas. While
recognising the Covid-19 situation is a fluid one, Dream Cruises’
holiday plans remain unchanged.
“Dream Cruises ’upcoming itineraries for A Nordic Christmas Adventure
and further for Chinese New Year will be continuing as scheduled,” said
a spokesperson for Genting Cruise Lines. The package includes live
Christmas-themed shows, traditional dining and a Christmas market.
“Dream Cruises remains vigilant with its health and hygiene
guidelines and protocols and continues to work with Hong Kong
authorities to ensure we are up-to-date with the latest developments and