Hongkongers are being encouraged to give visitors a smile as a small but significant step towards improving service quality in the city’s tourist sector, where unfriendly welcomes in taxis, shops and restaurants are not uncommon, the Tourism Board’s new chairman says.
Pang Yiu-kai, who took over at the helm of the city’s tourism promoter last month, said on Tuesday that unfriendly taxi drivers, wait staff and retailers, as well as poor Wi-fi and telecoms services, were the top complaints by tourists last year, when a record 65.1 million travellers visited the city.
While Pang believed that those providing shoddy service were in the minority, he called for a campaign for customer service staff to smile at visitors as the city faced fierce competition for tourist dollars in the wider region.
Their gripes notwithstanding, tourists most liked Hong Kong’s convenient public transport system, efficient immigration procedures and sightseeing options. While the city’s accommodation services ranked highly, many found them to be too expensive.
“If we don’t do better in services, we will lag behind other destinations,” he said.
The board’s outgoing executive director Anthony Lau Chun-hon said the number of business travellers slumped in 2001 when American energy firm Enron collapsed and the figures had since yet to return to that level.
Lau said the new platform would be available at the end of this year, and would allow tourists to get information on more than 10,000 shops and restaurants certified by the quality tourism service scheme.
“This means that if any visitors make complaints against these outlets, the board will follow up accordingly,” Lau said.