Hong Kong Launches Meet The Locals Programme

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has launched its first-ever Meet-the-Locals Volunteer Programme.

Hong Kong residents are being recruited to become Hong Kong Pals and provide travel information to visitors from across the globe. The volunteers will also introduce Hong Kongs way of life and culture, as well as make travel recommendations based on their own favourite sites and activities. Such interaction will help visitors to enjoy a more in-depth experience of Hong Kong.

HKTB Chairman Mr James Tien said, In recent years, competition among regional travel destinations has become more intense than ever, especially in the wake of the financial tsunami. Every destination is aggressively seeking visitor sources. In HKTBs view, if we are to get our piece of the pie, then Hong Kongs unique living culture should be our principal soft asset. We hope that the Meet-the-Locals volunteers can convey to visitors their knowledge and personal experience of Hong Kongs colourful lifestyle and culture, and help them explore Hong Kong in a fresh new way.

Tourism is everyones business, Mr Tien continued. Through the Meet-the-Locals Volunteer Programme, Hong Kong residents will take up positions on the front-line of servicing visitors, displaying the warm, hospitable face of the city, and promoting Hong Kong tourism hand-in-hand with HKTB.

Between October 2009 and September 2010, the Meet-the-Locals volunteers identified as Hong Kong Pals will offer services at HKTB Visitor Centres located at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Concourse and The Peak.

To become a Hong Kong Pal, residents must be passionate about Hong Kong, and speak fluent Cantonese, English and Mandarin. Knowledge of additional languages would be an added advantage. A Hong Kong Pal must also possess knowledge of one or more tourism-related areas of interest, such as Hong Kong cuisine, Cantonese Opera, architecture, history, eco-friendly tourist activities, and be able to introduce them to visitors as needed.

In association with the Agency for Volunteer Service and tourism industry representatives, the HKTB will form a Selection Committee charged with interviewing applicants and choosing 30 Hong Kong Pals within June 2009. Between July and September 2009, the HKTB will arrange approximately 60 hours of training for these Hong Kong Pals.

Local specialists will provide additional knowledge of Hong Kong living culture, such as its history, natural scenery, artefacts and historical landmarks, arts and culture, fashion and food and drink, to Hong Kong Pals. The specialists include cross-media artist Craig Au Yeung; founder of China Polar Museum Foundation, Dr Rebecca Lee; international food and wine critic Mr William Mark; ecologist Mr Samson So; fashion designer Mr William Tang; and previous Chief Curator of Hong Kong Museum of History, Dr Joseph Ting.

In order to ease the Hong Kong Pals into their new role, the HKTB will also provide them with the information about the status of Hong Kongs tourism industry, techniques for servicing tourists and modes of visitor spending.

Interested applicants should submit a completed form to the Agency for Volunteer Service on or before May 31 for initial screening prior to interviews.

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