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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

6 steps Hong Kong can take to regain the global spotlight

6 steps Hong Kong can take to regain the global spotlight

After defining its vision and brand, Hong Kong should use its flagship airline and ambassadors from sectors ranging from lifestyle to business to tells its story globally. Initiatives such as a visitors passport and tax incentives could sweeten the deal.
The mood music surrounding Hong Kong is dramatically changing for the better. The various international meetings taking place here confirm that Hong Kong is coming back. In fact, it never went away, but Covid-19 restrictions made it virtually impossible to function as an international business hub.

So what now? How to do we regain our presence on the global stage? I believe there are six initiatives that will transform Hong Kong’s reputation going forward as a place to work, live, visit and love.

First, vision. The Hong Kong government has a golden opportunity to rewrite history and reclaim the city’s place in the world. The government needs to define what Hong Kong is and represents for residents, visitors and businesses.

Most importantly, how will the government secure hope for the younger generation who, in many cases, feel their future is bleak? What opportunities does the city offer? Define them for today and for the future.

Second, brand. With a vision in place, we can then properly tell our story. The Hello Kitty – sorry, Hello Hong Kong – “campaign” is not the answer. We need a visionary, uplifting and authentic global campaign that captures the heart and soul of what Hong Kong is and will become.

Find the best local and global creative professionals. Hire them to capture the world’s imagination through stunning films, images and words. Roll this campaign out through modern media channels. Connect with the people who matter to our future – which is everyone.

Cathay Pacific is Hong Kong’s airline, which means it has tremendous global diplomatic importance. Those tails at every airport around the world represent huge branding power. Cathay and Hong Kong need to become one, just as Singapore Airlines and Singapore have become.

A Hong Kong relaunch needs our airline to relaunch in parallel, becoming our international icon: the planes, the people, the flying experience and, most importantly, the destination.

Third, advocacy. Hong Kong needs to get on the global road and tell the world its story. I’d like to see Hong Kong ambassadors from entertainment, business and lifestyle on every talk show and in every news media on the planet, showing the vibrancy, passion and creativity Hong Kong has to offer.

I am not suggesting replicating South Korea’s brilliant soft-power campaign. But BTS and Blackpink are selling out stadiums worldwide, just saying.

Fourth, a visitor passport. The Hong Kong Tourism Board should design and roll out a simple, motivational promotion to spur visits to Hong Kong. How? Let visitors from anywhere download a “passport” that delivers genuine benefits on arrival for their stay: free public transport, free taxi rides, significant discounts at hotels and restaurants, for starters.

The government would need to underwrite this initiative, but I am confident the entire Hong Kong food and beverage industry would get behind such a move if it drove visitor traffic.

Fifth, an income tax holiday. If Hong Kong is looking to attract new talent from around the world, make it financially attractive. The pitch is simple: the Hong Kong government wants you to make our place, your place. When you come here to work for the first time, your first 12 or 24 months will be tax-free.

Sixth, showtime. Hong Kong needs to become Asia-Pacific’s destination of choice for global music, entertainment and film production. Make the financial incentives unbeatable.

Film production is a quick win. Vancouver offers up to 40 per cent in tax credits and incentives for films made in the city. Hong Kong should offer 100 per cent. Films are the best way to showcase a city.

Previously even people who had never been to Hong Kong wanted to visit the city. It was seen as an exciting blend of East and the West. Today many people either think we are in dire straits or ask with deep concern, “Are you OK?”.

The people who know Hong Kong know we are OK. Many who left, and in many cases with valid reasons, are now considering coming back. The challenge is now to win the hearts and minds of the new local and the global community.

Hong Kong is, and will always be, unique. Our mission must now be to rebuild our role in the world – as somewhere to work, live, visit and love.
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