The newly installed UK and northern Europe director at Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has emphasised the importance of travel agents as the destination targets a return to pre-pandemic visitor levels.
Anette Wendel-Menke (pictured) took up her post in London on July 1, having previously been based in Frankfurt as the director for central Europe.
She told Travel Weekly that Hong Kong has been recovering well since reopening in March, but she looks forward to engaging with agents while campaigning for greater air capacity.
“The trade is very important for us and that’s why we invest in the collaboration,” said Wendel-Menke, adding: “I’m very much looking forward to getting to know more trade partners.”
Before the pandemic, Hong Kong welcomed an annual average of around 500,000 visitors from the UK. This year, the figure reached around 124,000 by the end of August.
“We’re recovering very well and I believe we’ll come back strongly – hopefully next year – to the pre-pandemic level, but everything depends on the flight capacity,” said Wendel-Menke, who has worked at HKTB since 1999.
Compared with pre-pandemic, flight capacity sits at around 76%, Wendel-Menke said, as a result of Virgin Atlantic having stopped its service and Cathay Pacific not currently offering Gatwick flights.
The Heathrow services operated by British Airways and Cathay Pacific are back up to pre-pandemic levels, Wendel-Menke said, with Cathay Pacific also offering flights from Manchester.
Wendel-Menke is keen for agents to know about the variety of attractions that Hong Kong has to offer in addition to its famous skyline.
Training is available both online and face-to-face, Wendel-Menke said, with plans being drawn up for several fam trips in 2024.
Trade partners and media will also be invited to join the tourism board’s Chinese New Year celebrations in London for the Year of the Dragon.
“While we’re celebrating, we’ll deliver the latest news for Hong Kong,” said Wendel-Menke, adding that HKTB will also attend the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Christmas lunch this year as well as its roadshow in 2024.
HKTB will have a presence at the World Travel Market, but it will not have its own stand.
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