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Celebrities Interview / Parting Thoughts

Meet The Chairman of HKHA - Peter Wong

Meet The Chairman of HKHA

Peter Wong, the newly elected Chairman of the Hong Kong Hotels Association, shares his thoughts on his new role as chairman of HKHA and on the challenges and opportunities facing Hong Kong’s hotel industry.
I studied hotel management in Switzerland and Austria, and have since spent over 35 years in the hotel and hospitality industry in various operational and management roles. Time does fly!
I was fortunate to start my career with several prestigious international hotels, where I learned all the basics of hotel operations. I then worked for various local hotel groups, including stints with Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hutchison Whampoa, Henderson Land and Sino Land, as well as at Hotel Nikko, where I learned about the Japanese emphasis on quality with its Zero Defects approach. I also gained valuable experience working in Mainland China.
I returned to Sun Hung Kai in 2005, initially as general manager of Royal Plaza and then as VP for the hotel division.. I now serve as the Senior Vice President and oversee our four Royal Hotels: Royal Park, Royal Plaza, Royal View and ALVA Hotel by royal. I also serve as the owner's representative of our branded partner hotels and as a member of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners.
I started my affiliation with the HKHA as early as 1996 and joined the Executive Committee in 2008, working with other committee members on various industry issues. I was greatly honoured to be elected Chairman at HKHA 60th Annual General Meeting held in August last month. I feel privileged to take up this challenge, with the support of Executive Committee and members to continue to strengthen the representation and development of hotel industry in Hong Kong.
This year, the hotel industry everywhere is facing unprecedented challenges as travel came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hong Kong's tourism sector, including hotels, has clearly been the hardest hit. Occupancy levels crashed and hotels are suffering severe financial hardship . Of necessity, hotels are having to be vigilant, creative and do all they can to stay in business.
From the beginning of the crisis, HKHA has worked closely with Health Department and its Centre for Health Protection to put in place stringent protection measures that all our hotels follow strictly to ensure the health and safety of guests and employees.
From a business standpoint, hotels had to scramble. Many were prompt to offer staycation promotional packages to attract locals. But as long as the city's borders remain closed, our hotels will struggle to survive. To date, the Government has offered various financial assistance schemes to help keep us afloat, which we appreciate. But obviously, what we really need is hotel guests and visitors coming back to Hong Kong as soon as practicable.
Our near-term hope is that the borders open soon and allow in visitors from China and neighbouring Asian countries. Until then, continued financial support from the Government is crucial for our survival. Once the borders are open again, the hotels will collaborate with Hong Kong Tourism Board to launch recovery promotion packages to entice visitors back to Hong Kong.
At HKHA, in the short term, our priorities are to work with the government to extend the financial support and to help with tourism recovery. In the longer term, we want to resume focus on our core mission, to encourage more young people to enter our industry by various routes – high school, vocational institutions and hotel management schools. We need young people to know that working at a hotel can be an interesting and rewarding career.
This pandemic will have lasting impact on both tourism and the general economy. First, we are seeing the increasing growth of the home economy, especially among the younger generation. In addition to shopping online, the pandemic has seen people increasingly working from home and eating at home. For many, a take-out is now more attractive than dining out. That is really forcing us to think about how our F&B outlets can cater creatively to the take-out segment. While there will always be leisure travel, I think the MICE sector will take much longer to recover and will even reconfigure as people get used to online meetings, and in ever larger groups. Hotels must adapt accordingly. It also means that to draw tourists back, Hong Kong must create new points of interest. There's a lot to think about as we move forward.
I love Hong Kong, it's my home. What I like best about Hong Kong is the sheer diversity of its food culture. You can enjoy regional and international cuisines of any kind here, not to mention the different Cantonese cuisines and local Hong Kong food, More than that, you can experience excellent food at different levels, from street eating to dai pai dongs to world-famous Michelin-starred restaurants. Our food culture stacks up with any city's in the world. The shopping is great too. Hong Kong remains a paradise for both food and shopping.



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