Will and how will the pandemic affect Hong Kong citizens’ outbound travel preferences and behaviors? How strong is the pent-up travel demand and how soon will people start travelling again? Will more people prefer travelling in groups to travelling individually after the pandemic? How acceptable are the COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements to travellers and will they cut back on their travel budgets?
To find out the answers, the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC) and TKS Exhibition Services Ltd (TKS), the organiser of the Hong Kong’s International Travel Expo (ITE) combining Leisure & MICE travels, have jointly conducted an online public survey from 30 April to 7 May 2021. The majority of the invitees to the survey are visitors to the public days of ITEs held in the past years. The response is most encouraging: 1,394 replies were received and almost half of them have arrived in the first two days!
“We will share these very useful findings with our members, as well as our close business partners, such as the local/regional offices of the various national tourism organisations. We hope the information collected will facilitate their planning and preparation for the recovery,” Mrs Alice Chan, Executive Director of the TIC said.
“We welcome the professional input from the TIC, particularly on the survey questions,” said Mr K S Tong, Managing Director of TKS, “and agree that it is now time to work together to speed up the recovery! ITE Hong Kong 2021, which has been rescheduled to 29 July to 1 August 2021 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), will be one of the boosters.”
Overall, the survey findings are positive. While those concerning “pent-up travel demand” (*1) are close to expectation, findings related to “travel budget” (*2) are happy surprises!
The survey confirms that safety is a prime concern! Over three quarters of the respondents are willing to pay more for a safer journey (*3). Around 50% of the respondents consider quarantine both at destination and upon returning to Hong Kong unacceptable (*4a & 4b), which constitute a major deterrent to travel! Travellers are nevertheless more receptive to taking COVID-19 tests (*5) as over 70% of the respondents accept taking them at least once a week.
It is important to note that travellers are much more concerned about travel restrictions and quarantine period and hygiene measures than price concession or flexible cancellation/ refund policies when selecting their destinations (*6)!
Over 40% of the respondents consider that when restrictions are only partially lifted, it may be safer travelling in a group (*7). The majority of the respondents prefer travelling in smaller groups, with 40% opting for groups of 10 or less and 50% opting for groups of 11 to 20. (*8).
The survey result shows that travellers from Hong Kong prefer destinations that are safer and closer to home (*9). The most popular destinations are Mainland China, Macau, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. It is likely that travellers, out of safety concerns, try to avoid visiting destinations which were comparatively more seriously affected by the pandemic and longer-haul flights at the early stage of recovery.
As to the type of holiday preferred, over half of the respondents chose “Cuisine, Health, Shopping & Recreation”, followed by “In-depth travel” and “Family Fun / Visit”.
It is noted that respondents who have participated in the survey represented mainly a mature, educated and middle-income group, with the majority of them being females (*11-*14).