Hong Kong tourism ads ignore disease control

Hong Kong has enlisted the help of former Australian rugby union star Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins to lure visitors – albeit using footage filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic, when masks weren’t not mandatory.

The territory’s tourism industry has been largely wiped out by pandemic border controls that have left it internationally isolated.

It recorded just 76,000 arrivals in the first half, compared to 65 million for the whole of 2018.

Photo: Bloomberg

However, Hong Kong is gearing up for what it bills as a grand reopening early next month, to coincide with the Rugby 7s tournament and a banking summit.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board’s latest campaign has raised eyebrows for the image it paints of a territory devoid of many of the strict pandemic curbs that, unlike much of the world, are still in place.

In three videos released Wednesday, Cummins, a reality TV personality known during his playing career for his on-field aggression and colorful post-game interviews, visits various sights.

“I can’t wait for Australians to explore Hong Kong like I did,” Cummins enthused in the press release announcing the ads.

However, the masks, which remain mandatory in Hong Kong for virtually all public places, were nowhere visible in the advertisements, and there was no sign of the ubiquitous app used to scan entry to venues. .

One of the restaurants Cummins visited, a once-legendary establishment called Tung Po, was shut down by authorities last month over a tenancy dispute.

A spokesperson for the Tourist Office told Agence France-Presse that the videos were shot in January 2020 and came with a disclaimer that “the scenes and visuals of all promotional materials have been made for advertising and creative purposes only”.

Hong Kong last month scrapped more than two years of mandatory quarantine for overseas arrivals, long after regional tourism rivals such as Singapore and Bangkok.

However, visitors are still not allowed to enter bars or restaurants for the first three days and must undergo several COVID-19 tests.

Public gatherings of more than four people are still prohibited.

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