Attractions with stronger appeal for experience-hungry travellers are being rolled out, raising hopes that Hong Kong can reinvigorate its tourism hub status. It is good to see the sector and authorities opening doors for visitors and locals to enjoy novel interactions with what the city has to offer beyond the shopping and dining focus before the Covid-19 pandemic.
One new approach is a sightseeing bus route on Lantau, Hong Kong’s largest island. Since last week, coaches have been linking attractions like the cable car, Disneyland and a new shopping centre.
Another opening will soon be available as police start taking applications for permits to visit to a restricted historic town near Hong Kong’s border with the mainland. City residents, visitors and licensed travel agencies will be allowed to sign up for a daily quota of 1,000 spots to be offered from next month.
The industry and the government have been scrambling to pave the way for a post-Covid comeback. After finding limited success with a range of ideas from ticket giveaways to night vibes promotions, the latest offerings seem more in touch with demand.
Recent research by the travel industry has found that interest in shops and dining has been replaced by a craving for selfie-worthy sights and experiences.
Earlier this year, as travel restrictions eased, the sector seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. Visitors complained about being herded around, and in some cases served unsatisfying “two-dish rice” takeaways handed out on the street.
The approach was seen as disruptive to local life rather than a chance to immerse in it.
The tours now being introduced seem to be taking a smarter path. One of the new Lantau bus routes cleverly makes a slow drive past Hong Kong International Airport’s aircraft maintenance area – not for plane spotting, but rather because it is popular with photographers seeking fresh views of sunsets and landscapes.
Tourists may be able to search for and find attractions if they have the time and patience, but for most, it is far better to have interesting destinations ready and waiting. It is good to see the city take steps to put its best foot forward.