As Hong Kong slowly and cautiously opens up, attractions and tour operators are wooing the local market to visit the city's varied attractions through attractive deals, coupled with the allure of smaller crowds and a more pristine environment.
Although business has been tough without international tourists since the onset of the pandemic, Hong Kong Dolphinwatch has been showing local residents anything but empty seas in recent weeks since resuming operations after nearly five weeks' closure in March and April.
“There is less flotsam and jetsam in the water, less boat traffic with no ferries whizzing from China and Macau, and few fishing boats,” said Janet Walker, senior tour coordinator and spokesperson, who has been leading tours since 1997.
As a result of lesser disturbances in the waters, more sightings of the Indo-Pacific Chinese White Dolphins (nicknamed the Pink Dolphins as they turn a delicate shade of pink thanks to increased circulation when moving around) have also been reported. “We have had very good sightings recently, and the dolphins are moving more freely," said Walker.
To encourage locals to partake in more of its experiences, Hong Kong Dolphinwatch has rolled out a 'buy five get one free' ticket promotion, a year-long offer that comprises a free repeat trip in the unlikely event that no dolphins are seen.
At the same time, Walker has noticed that more locals are combining a dolphin tour with a staycation or an additional sightseeing trip.
“A lot of people are trying to get to know bits of Hong Kong they have never seen before and most residents think it is great to get out of town on a boat and into the fresh air. At the moment the views stretch all the way to Macau and Zhuhai and up into Shenzhen,” she said.
“A family last week did a staycation in Tsim Sha Tsui, then wandered over and met us at our pick-up there. Others have taken advantage of our post-tour drop-off at Tung Chung to visit the Big Buddha, shop in Tung Chung’s outlets or hop on a bus to Pui O beach.”
Elsewhere in the city, locals are also flocking to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort since its reopening on June 18 to take advantage of the summer events and limited-time F&B and ticket offers including the Hong Kong Resident 2+1 Magic Offer and Bring A Friend.
Meanwhile, the West Kowloon Cultural District, which was among Hong Kong's first arts institutions to live stream performances on its Freespace, Facebook and Instagram channels during the coronavirus lockdown, has lined up a series of new programmes to encourage more in-person visits at the harbourfront venue again, according to a spokesperson.
Fresh offerings rolled out including The Tea House Theatre Experience showcasing Cantonese opera performances in Xiqu Centre, free Chinese music performances in the atrium, and guided tours of the cultural quarter.
From the beginning of July, the Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders exhibition was launched at the M+ Pavilion, while 30 Hong Kong-based actors took park in An Invitation: On Empty Theatre to reflect on their relationship with the audience.