Tourism industry set for another $377m in relief

Local | Eunice Lam 6 Aug 2021

Further relief of HK$377 million has been earmarked under the anti-epidemic fund to support the struggling tourism sector.

The additional subsidies will go to both tour agencies and individuals, with each tour guide receiving a one-off subsidy of HK$7,500. Three rounds of subsidies amounting to more than HK$1.7 billion had been provided to the tourism industry before the relief fund.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said yesterday: "Taking into account the grave challenges faced by the tourism industry continuously, the government has decided to provide a round of special further subsidies to continue to support the relevant trades and tide over practitioners during this challenging period."

Under the new allocation, travel agencies with 10 or fewer staffers will get a one-off subsidy of HK$50,000.

For agencies with more than 11 staffers, the subsidy level would depend on the number of staffers, with HK$5,000 per staff member.

About 1,600 agencies are expected to benefit.

Separately, about 18,400 tour agency employees, tour guides and tour escorts can get a one-off handout of HK$7,500.

About 3,400 tour coach drivers will get HK$3,350 each.

A one-off subsidy of HK$30,000 per company is provided to about 1,500 cross-boundary coach owners and 600 cross-boundary hire car operators.

Owners of about 80 cross-boundary ferry vessels can receive a handout of HK$500,000 per vessel.

Tour agencies and frontline workers who received subsidies from the last round of the Tourism Industry Additional Support Scheme are eligible.

The Tourism Commission will send them an SMS notification on the disbursements. The first payments are expected next month.

For owners of cross-boundary coaches, and operators of hire cars and ferries, the transport and marine departments will write to laying out the details.

Payments will be disbursed within one to two months.

Perry Yiu Pak-leung, convener of Hong Kong Travel Agents' Relief Alliance, said the amount of subsidies for travel agencies was less than half of the HK$100,000 one-off handouts in the 2020 Budget.

Yiu said the industry could not benefit from the electronic consumption vouchers distributed since Sunday.

He doubted if the subsidies could help the industry, which he said was on the verge of collapse.

Yiu also described the government's incentive schemes for the industry as nominal, as they only applied to overnight visitors.

He suggested the government put the subsidies in the Green Lifestyle Local Tour Incentive Scheme or increase the number of winners in the Free Tours Lucky Draw organized by the Tourism Board.

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