Following the end of the government’s employment support scheme for the tourism industry last November, industry players have rallied together to create short-term job and business opportunities for travel agents and practitioners.

A proposal under the Job Creation Scheme put forth by 18 travel industry-related associations and unions, including the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC) and the Hong Kong Hotels Association (HKHA), was accepted by the government recently.

Tour operators selling products at the inaugural travel fair organised by Hong Kong Japanese Operator Association

Last November, the government earmarked HK$6 billion (US$771.4 million) under the Anti-epidemic Fund to take forward the Job Creation Scheme, which is expected ​to create 30,000 temporary jobs in the public and private sectors over the next two years.

Under the scheme, tourism workers will be offered some 2,000 temporary jobs to assist in administrative tasks across 24 community vaccination centres (CVCs). The job openings target travel agents, hotel staff, tour guides/escorts, coach drivers and back office staff.

Currently, the government deploys manpower from various departments to run and manage operations at the CVCs, and the administrative support by the travel trade will allow for more flexible deployment of its manpower.

In order to conduct recruitments, a new company, the Tourism Industry CVC Administration Services, has been set up. The company will be granted a HK$2 million subsidy by the government.

According to convenor Michael Wu, the hiring process for the job openings started yesterday (April 7), and is expected to draw 7,000-8,000 applications.

So far, three job categories are waiting to be filled, namely, centre supervisors (46 vacancies with HK$40,000 monthly salary), assistant centre supervisors (92 vacancies with HK$30,000 monthly salary), and registration officers (1,600 vacancies with HK$1,300 daily salary). All appointees will undergo a short period of training and familiarisation before officially commencing work on May 1.

Each employment contract has a five-month term, with an estimated cost of HK$150 million for all 2,000 jobs combined.

Meanwhile, the first-ever mini travel mart to support the embattled tourism industry has been launched today (April 8) at a 650m2 event site in Kwun Tong. Jointly organised by Hong Kong Japanese Operator Association (HKJOA) and Inspire Hub, the four-day marketplace provides free booths for agents (15 booths) and practitioners (20 booths) to sell products.

HKJOA spokesman, Gianna Hsu, told TTG Asia the aim of the travel mart is to provide an avenue for the travel trade to earn some income during this challenging period. “As many practitioners have lost their jobs, we hope to drive more business opportunities for them. This mini-mart attracted more than 110 applications from the industry, and eventually, only 35 applicants were picked through a live lucky draw. It is estimated to draw around 1,000 visitors per day.”

Products on sale at the travel mart are mostly gourmet food sourced via the operator’s overseas networks. For instance, China Travel Service is showcasing a slew of premium tea brands and Japanese enzyme, while independent practitioners are selling everything from healthy dried fruit