The Hong Kong government has announced it will subsidise local travel agencies to promote environmentally friendly tours.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said that the government will reserve HK$50 million over six months to subsidise travel agencies in cash to provide “green” tours. Each agency may receive HK$100 for each tourist, subject to a HK$50,000 cap.
The tour groups may go to country parks, geoparks, islands, ecoparks and environmentally protected facilities. The travel agencies will have to hire tour escorts and guides, and will have to arrange transport and food.
The participants will have to follow environmental protection rules and take away their own rubbish. Agencies will also have to avoid handing out disposable items.
Yau said the measure could help promote local travel in light of the economic downturn: “We hope the measure can support companies and employment, so as to support the affected travel industry,” he said.
He said Hong Kong’s country parks are large and are able to receive more tourists.
Jason Wong, chair of the Hong Kong Travel Industry Council, said travel agencies will be able to organise group tours with attractive prices compared to existing local offerings.
The measure came after the government announced other measures to support the travel industry in October.
Tourist numbers have plummeted with large-scale protests continuing around the city for over six months.