The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced today the launch of a standardized COVID-19 hygiene protocol in partnership with the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA), one of the leading conformity assessment bodies in the territory, providing unified guidelines on hygiene and anti-epidemic measures for tourism-related industries.
While the tourism industry and related sectors have already taken various measures to improve hygiene and anti-epidemic standards, a standardized protocol can help the public easily recognize businesses with such measures in place and spread the message to visitors that all sectors in Hong Kong are committed to maintaining a high level of hygiene and safety.
At more than 1,800 businesses and outlets that have expressed interest in adapting the new protocol, customers will easily be able to recognize and understand the measures in place across tourism-related sectors and bolster visitors’ confidence in traveling to Hong Kong upon the resumption of inbound travel. To help relieve the finance burden, the HKTB also will fully sponsor application fee for qualified business.
Leading the Way
Hong Kong has led the way in introducing anti-virus measures since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, with citizens and businesses working together to adopt some of the world’s most stringent hygiene measures. Businesses in the tourism sector have been particularly active in implementing hygiene measures supported by advanced cleaning technologies into their daily operations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new normal to the tourism landscape, and public health and safety have become a priority for visitors,” said Dr. YK Pang, Chairman of the HKTB.
“Many international travel and tourism organizations have already put in place hygiene and anti-epidemic guidelines, and standardizing hygiene measures for each sector can spread to visitors the message that Hong Kong values its commitment to hygiene and safety.”
The protocol will cover shopping malls, hotels, tourism attractions, restaurants, retail stores, coach companies, travel agencies, MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) venues and more. Participating businesses and outlets are required to comply with a series of hygiene and anti-epidemic measures (see Appendix). After passing the assessment, details of the businesses and outlets will be uploaded to a dedicated website of the HKQAA. The businesses and outlets can display a designated logo for recognition to show their commitment to the protocol. The HKQAA will conduct random visits for continued inspections.
Promoting Best Practices
“During the development of the standardized protocol, the HKQAA referred to the guidelines by the Center for Health Protection and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department,” said Ir C. S. Ho, Chairman of the HKQAA. “We aim to promote best practices for hygiene and anti-pandemic measures across tourism-related sectors and acknowledge their efforts in combating the pandemic through professional and impartial third-party verification, thus restoring public confidence in out-of-home consumption and travel.”
The Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency has taken reference from guidelines established by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. The measures were developed according to each sector’s operational procedures after consulting the trade.
This initiative will be launched in two phases. Opening for applications began on October 8 with the first phase covering tourism-related sectors including hotels, shopping malls, tourist attractions, inbound tour operators, and retailers and eateries under the Quality Tourism Services (QTS) Scheme. To help businesses in the trades at this difficult time, the HKTB will fully sponsor the application fees for qualified businesses. The next phase will be extended to cross-boundary coach companies, tour coach companies, meeting, incentive trips, convention and exhibition (MICE) venues and other retailers and eateries.
The HKTB is currently working with the Hong Kong SAR Government and the tourism industry to prepare for the resumption of travel to Hong Kong and aims to welcome visitors back with an assortment of exciting experiences and attractive offers.