An elder collects waste in Quarry Bay, south China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Sept. 18, 2019. (Xinhua/Lu Ye)
HONG KONG, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- Travel agencies in Hong Kong can receive a government subsidy of up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars for organizing eco-tours to promote tourism industry badly affected by current social events, according to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government on Monday.
Edward Yau, secretary for commerce and economic development of the HKSAR government, said in a press release that the scheme will begin on Jan. 1, 2020 and initially run for six months. Travel agencies will be provided 100 HKD (12.85 U.S. dollars) for each customer they book on designated green tours.
"So, we hope that this scheme will also provide timely assistance to the hard-hit tourism trade, where this small token could encourage more travel agents or tourist guides to spend time in organizing such activities for the enjoyment of our local community," Yau said.
Travel agents that provide the eco-tour will be responsible for arranging transport and meals for participants. They should also observe green rules by ensuring that no plastic wares are provided to participants and encourage them to take their rubbish away after visiting green spots, according to the statement.
The scheme is specifically catered for local travel agencies that serve Hong Kong residents, said Yau, adding that this is a supplement to an earlier scheme to help the tourism industry.
The government had earlier announced a plan to give travel agencies 120 HKD (15.4 dollars) for each overnight visitor they attract to Hong Kong, to buffer the impact of the protracted social unrest.
The number of visitor arrivals to Hong Kong has witnessed the sharpest decline in 16 years for the third quarter of 2019. Only 11.9 million visitor arrivals have been recorded during the July-September period, down 26 percent year on year, according to official statistics.
Consequently, the unemployment rate of the consumption-and tourism-related segment rose to a three-year high of 5.2 percent. As a pillar industry for Hong Kong, tourism employed more than 250,000 people and contributed 4.5 percent of GDP to Hong Kong's economy in 2017.