The tourism and retail sectors said on Monday that while they are hopeful that business will slowly pick up with the full reopening of the border with the mainland, their pace of recovery may be undermined by a shortage of manpower.
Speaking on an RTHK programme, Sara Leung, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Tourism Industry Employees General Union, said many tour guides and staff workers have switched jobs during the pandemic.
“All of a sudden you want them to come back. But there may not be as many tours as previously … in general, tour guides don’t have a basic salary, and their income is based on the number of tour groups they receive. So, under such circumstances, any call for them to come back would be fruitless,” she said.
She urged the government to introduce a “re-establishment fund” to ensure that tour guides are able to make ends meet before the travel industry fully recovers – which she believes will take more than a year.
Leung also said Hong Kong will have to explore new attractions and further develop green tourism, and try to attract mainland visitors from second and third-tier cities.
Retail and wholesale sector lawmaker Peter Shiu, meanwhile, called on the government to consider importing foreign workers to tackle a manpower crunch.
“I’ve heard that many people from the retail sector have gone to work in the construction sector or have joined other industries. It was partly because the retail market wasn’t doing well in the past three years and other sectors needed manpower,” he said.
“If the government can introduce workers in the construction or other sectors, then local workers can be released back into the retail market,” he said.