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Cruising Returns to Hong Kong

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ong Kong became one of the latest destinations to join the global cruise revival in July, with strict new Covid-19 protocols allowing a resumption of short itineraries for local residents. After approvals from the Hong Kong Government, the first in a series of local cruise-to-nowhere itineraries departed from the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on July 30, sailing with reduced capacity and pre-boarding testing for all passengers and crew. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia and Asia Joel Katz said the resumption was an important milestone for cruising in Asia. “Hong Kong is one of Asia’s most important cruise hubs, and it will play an important role in our industry’s global recovery,” he said. “The beginning of domestic operations is the first step towards what we hope will be a more extensive revival of cruising from Hong Kong, which will allow the destination to reclaim its

place as one of Asia’s busiest cruise ports.” Hong Kong’s resumption is similar to operations in other Asian locations, including Singapore and Taiwan, where domestic-only sailings within local ‘bubbles’ have allowed a careful and tightly managed return to operations. “Asian locations have been among the pioneers in cruising’s global recovery,” Katz continued. “Jurisdictions like Singapore and Taiwan in particular have been among the first to work closely with cruise lines to implement extensive new health protocols in response to Covid-19. “These measures have been in place and working successfully in Asia since the latter part of 2020 and have provided an enormous amount of insight that has helped other destinations work towards a responsible resumption of cruising.” Katz told the experience gained in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong would help provide confidence among

governments and health authorities in other Asian locations where cruising had yet to resume. “The cruise industry’s new health measures in response to Covid-19 are among the most stringent to be found anywhere in tourism and include testing for passengers and crew, as well as extensive protocols covering crew quarantine, distancing, sanitation, health monitoring and response procedures,” he said. “In Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong we have the opportunity to see how these measures are performing in a working cruise environment, which together with successful operations in other parts of the world is helping to build a strong case for cruising in countries like Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the region.” Prior to the pandemic Asia represented the world’s third-largest cruise market, with 3.74 million people from Asia taking an ocean cruise in 2019. THIRD QUARTER 2021 | TRAVEL & CRUISE 27