Following the spreading of human swine influenza around the world since April this year and the confirmation of two imported cases of swine flu in Hong Kong on 1 and 13 May, the travel industry has suffered severe impact. Outbound travellers and inbound visitors are estimated to have plunged by 50% and 70% respectively, with the situation continuing to worsen.
The Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC) realises that swine flu has already brought about huge impact on the travel industry and will possibly make travel agents struggle to deal with cash-flow problems and affect the livelihood of traders.
During the SARS outbreak in 2003, the Government launched a series of relief measures for the travel industry, including government guaranteed, low-interest loans. As such, the TIC urges the Government to provide immediate relief measures for travel agents, such as low-interest loans with a full government guarantee and waivers of the travel agent's licence fee and other related fees, in order to help traders to ride out the current crisis.
The TIC will meet the Financial Secretary soon to put forward the requests of the industry again.