The Hong Kong SAR Government has eased Covid entry requirements for inbound visitors, making it much easier to travel to the destination. Jenny Southan reports
On December 29, 2022, Hong Kong became much easier to travel to thanks to the relaxing of a number of key Covid rules including PCR testing on arrival and on day two in a bid to revive the economy. Next year, the Hong Kong Tourism Board will even be giving away has 500,000 free plane tickets to attract visitors.
Back in December 2020, it was incredibly difficult and stressful to gain access to the destination, as a writer for Globetrender reported. Marisa Cannon wrote: “Travellers arriving by air must endure a series of Covid tests, a two-week hotel quarantine and government tracking. 14 days in a hotel room – where square footage is priced at a notorious premium – will test anyone’s mettle. Read my review of working remotely while quarantined in a 280 sqft hotel room, here.”
According to the Financial Times: “The Chinese territory had imposed some of the world’s most stringent curbs to control the virus, including mandatory quarantines that at one point stretched up to three weeks and a policy of separating Covid-positive children from their parents, measures that raised concern among expatriate residents and businesses as well as locals.”
Hong Kong mercifully scrapped its hotel quarantine requirement for inbound travellers in October 2022. Now it has relaxed border protocols further by dropping the need for a PCR test upon arrival (it was previously required upon arrival in Hong Kong International Airport and on day two).
Instead, inbound travellers will only need to provide evidence of a negative PCR test conducted within 48 hours or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours before their flights to Hong Kong. Daily rapid antigen tests on the first five days are voluntary.
To make it easier to enjoy the destination itself, Hong Kong is also removing the need for a mandatory Vaccine Pass to give access to specified premises such as restaurants and bars.
Restrictions on group gathering size in public, limits on the capacity of restaurants and other targeted premises will also be lifted. Only the requirement to wear a mask will remain.
Dr Pang Yiu-kai, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, says: “The new measures mark a key milestone for tourism revival and the full reopening of the tourism doors of Hong Kong. Visitors can now fully enjoy Hong Kong’s diverse offerings once they arrive in town.
“We believe this will attract visitors to Hong Kong from around the world. Taking into account the pace of outbound travel resumption in different visitor source markets, HKTB will gradually step up its promotions worldwide to uphold Hong Kong’s status as a world-class travel destination.”