One of Hong Kong's richest tycoons calls for end to travel curbs

Peter Woo wrote that it seems that policies are "held hostage every day by the infection number." PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - One of Hong Kong's wealthiest developers made a rare open call for the government to end inbound travel restrictions, in the latest sign that even the loyal property sector is losing patience with the city's strict Covid-19 policies.

Mr Peter Woo, who controls Wharf (Holdings) and Wharf Real Estate Investment with a net worth of US$18.5 billion (S$26 billion), released an article urging for an end of the restrictions for inbound travellers.

"Many Hong Kongers now have clearly experienced foreign countries' loosening policies and don't see any catastrophes as a result, and they see less controlled inbound travel as the trend," Mr Woo wrote. "Hong Kongers are smart. They don't understand why Hong Kong can't do what other places overseas are doing."

Mr Woo wrote that it is not clear whether the daily Covid-19 case number can truly reflect the severity of the disease in the city, and it seems that policies are "held hostage every day by the infection number".

Hong Kong's new cases have hovered at about 10,000 a day since the beginning of September.

The Chinese city has the ability to control the pandemic with wider vaccination and more resources for patients, according to Mr Woo.

He ended the article by saying that many people hope Hong Kong can "take off" before October, without having to wait for November.

Bloomberg reported last week that officials are targeting to end hotel quarantine in November.

Wharf Real Estate Investment is one of the worst-hit property companies during the pandemic. Its shopping malls that previously catered to tourists have seen foot traffic decline since the start of the pandemic.

The firm's revenue for the first six months of this year fell by 17 per cent from a year before. Hong Kong has some of the strictest inbound traveling policies in the world.

Visitors to the city are required to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for three nights while the rest of the world has scrapped such measures.


Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.