Mother's Day promises to be highlight for tours

Top News | Sophie Hui 3 May 2021

The Mother's Day weekend will be a peak time for restarted local tours, according to operators.

And tours to Singapore will highlight the summer, Travel Industry Council chairman Jason Wong Chun-tat noted yesterday as all flight tickets were taken for the bubble scheme starting on May 26.

"There are plenty of business travelers and people visiting relatives" in Singapore, Wong said, and the fast pace of bookings for tours had driven up airline ticket prices.

"We hope there will be more flights starting from June," he added. "It will only be easier to organize tours if there are more flights or other special arrangements."

Wong said it was understood Hong Kong officials were discussing bubble arrangements with a dozen places, including popular destinations like Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

He believes that when Hong Kong has zero infections its borders with Macau and the mainland will be reopened.

Meanwhile, local tours of less than 30 staff and guests per group were resumed on Thursday.

Workers need to have one Covid-19 jab or if they are unfit for inoculation they must be tested seven days before a tour. Tour participants also have to scan the LeaveHomeSafe app whenever they board transport or enter a venue. So far 29 tour agencies have registered with the Travel Industry Council to run local tours. Most of 100 tours will be in evidence on May 8-9 - Mother's Day weekend.

Wong said the council will feature the itineraries of local tours on its website.

He thinks more agencies will apply for the go-ahead to organize local tours as they have no other business and local tours can provide income for workers.

Wong said taking a local tour is not a high risk activity as regards the coronavirus and he hoped authorities will be flexible about making tour participants scan the LeaveHomeSafe QR code.

He said the council is investigating bus tours when tour members bought tickets to ride on coaches heading to several destinations without guides.

The agency concerned had not registered such tours with the council and some coaches were seen to be carrying more than 30 passengers.

The executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, Timothy Chui Ting-pong, said the vaccination rate in the sector is not satisfactory as many coach drivers are seniors and have health problems and they may be worried about being inoculated.

Chui said it takes time for people to explain to workers in the front line of the tourism sector that they need to obtain a medical certificate and to take the virus test if they are unfit for a vaccination.

Meanwhile, executive councillor and catering sector legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said some restaurants remain limited to four people at a table as their workers had not been vaccinated, and others wanted to see how authorities handle the health declarations of those who are unfit for a vaccine.

He said it is difficult for restaurants to divide a place of business into zones due to limited space.

He suggested authorities adopt a system in which an eatery has some "LeaveHomeSafe tables." They could have six people on one table if all restaurant workers are vaccinated and patrons use the LeaveHomeSafe app.

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