What do you need to travel to Hong Kong? Many, many tests

Visitors to Hong Kong do not need to be quarantined in a hotel upon arrival.

But they will be subject to a series of Covid tests.

They can go to work, take public transport and go to the supermarket, but to the first three days, Tourists cannot enter “high-risk facilities” such as restaurants, bars and gyms.

Travelers planning an 8-day trip must take 12 tests – 4 PCR and 8 rapid antigen tests – 1.5 tests per day on average.

Furthermore, those who tested positive quarantined in a community facility for at least a week.

However, the relaxed rules are welcome news for residents of the city, who have endured up to three weeks of hotel isolation restrictions at various times during the pandemic. .

The news comes a day after Hong Kong lost third place on the Global Financial Centers Index, giving way to Singapore, which has climbed three places – overtaking Hong Kong and Shanghai – becoming Asia’s leading financial centers.

New rules

The new ruleEffective Monday, it is required that, prior to departure, travelers must:

  • Test negative through self-administered rapid antigen test
  • Report test results in online health declaration
  • Get a health declaration QR code to present before departure and arrival
  • Vaccinated for entry or has a medical exemption certificate (if a non-resident and 12 years of age or older)

Upon arrival, visitors must:

  • Take the PCR test at the airport, then again on days 2, 4 and 6 (arrival date is day 0)
  • Do rapid antigen tests daily from day 1 to day 7
  • Subject to medical supervision for three days, during which they must avoid places such as restaurants, nightclubs and beauty salons
  • Follow a four-day self-monitoring period

Leaving in a hurry, less interested in entering

According to travel booking company Expedia, Friday’s announcement spurred a spike in interest in outbound flights.

According to Expedia, flight searches from Hong Kong to Japan increased 10x in the three days following the announcement, compared with the previous week, while flight searches to Taiwan increased 12x in the same time period. , according to Expedia.

The top flight searches by Hong Kong travelers on Expedia for the weekend were:

  1. Osaka, Japan
  2. Tokyo, Japan
  3. Seoul, South Korea
  4. Bangkok, Thailand
  5. Sapporo, Japan
  6. Taipei, Taiwan
  7. Taichung, Taiwan
  8. Singapore
  9. Fukuoka, Japan
  10. London, United Kingdom

However, travel preferences to Hong Kong are much more muted.

Expedia’s Hong Kong accommodation search data grew by 50% over the weekend, compared with the week before publication.

Preference to Hong Kong is also not dominated by tourists in the region. The UK, Canada and the US are the top destinations, according to Expedia flight search data.

Pang Yiu-kai, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, on Tuesday acknowledged that the relaxed regulations “are expected to initially attract mainly business travelers, family visitors and Hong Kong residents.” Kong returns.”

A step forward, but still behind the times

Joseph Armas, executive director of Hong Kong’s American Chamber of Commerce, said the removal of hotel quarantine was a “step forward”.

But to really boost the city’s tourism and hospitality sectors, Armas says the remaining regulations need to be scrapped.

Ending hotel quarantine in Hong Kong is a step forward for the tourism industry: AmCham Hong Kong

Japan is a recent example of a rule-filled reopening strategy that has attracted far fewer tourists than expected.

Japan announced on Thursday that visitors will be allowed to travel freely around the country starting October 11, ending restrictions that are said to confuse tourists the most. That same day, searches for flights to Japan nearly doubled, according to Expedia data.

Regina Ip, who convenes the Hong Kong Executive Council, said the “next logical step” for Hong Kong is to remove the three-day medical surveillance banning visitors from dining in restaurants.

Ip said she hoped the measures would be eased further next month after Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee delivered his policy speech on October 19.

Prelude to China’s reopening?

The easing of Covid-19 measures in Hong Kong has spurred Chinese people to hope that they may soon see regulations eased as well.

China’s borders have been closed since March 2020, when the pandemic spread globally.

Currently, incoming travelers must quarantine at a centralized facility – such as a hotel – in seven daysfollowed by three more days at home before going out.

“Many businesses and residents in Hong Kong depend on the mainland, and commuting is critical to their business,” Armas told CNBC’s “Squawkbox Asia” on Monday.

Covid restrictions in Hong Kong could be eased further next month, an official said

While there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, China is unlikely to see a “significant easing” of Covid measures until next spring, said Andrew Tilton, chief economist for Asia-Thailand. Binh Duong at Goldman Sachs said.

Elderly people in China still need “a booster shot” and the government wants to make sure they have enough medicine, should another wave of Covid occur after the country reopens, he said.

“China is a big country. We’re just a city… I’m not sure our approach can be applied to the whole country,” Ip said.

However, there may be some good news for residents in China.

After nearly three years, Macao will reopen its borders to visitors from China in the coming weeks, Reuters reported.

Matthew Ossolinski, Chairman of Ossolinski Holdings, said the world’s largest gambling center has been hit hard by China’s zero-Covid policy, as its “main customer stream” comes from the mainland. When the border between China and Macao reopens, “it will be interesting to see if there is a stampede or a trickle, but there is a huge amount of pent-up demand,” he added.

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