Lawmakers advocate for Hong Kong government to promote low altitude economy to benefit tourism industry

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Elizabeth Quat

30th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Several legislators from Hong Kong have recently visited various cities in mainland China to observe the development of the low altitude economy. Elizabeth Quat and Yiu Pak-leung, two lawmakers, made three separate trips this month to explore the advancements in Shenzhen’s Yantian, Bao’an, and Longhua districts. During their visits, they also had the opportunity to experience riding in unmanned electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

Elizabeth Quat expressed her observations that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been successfully flying in mainland China for three years, demonstrating stable flight operations. In contrast, Hong Kong has yet to make significant progress in this area. Quat recommended the Hong Kong government to promptly establish a “Cross-departmental Working Group on the Low Altitude Economy” to formulate strategies for the development of this sector.

In addition to their visits, Quat and Yiu previously took a test flight in an unmanned electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft at Dameisha Beach. They praised the stability of the flight and highlighted that manned UAVs have been flying in mainland China for three years, even under adverse weather conditions. It is anticipated that commercial flights will officially commence in June this year, with fares ranging from HKD 200 to 300 per trip. This development is expected to attract tourists as a new travel option.

Quat further emphasised that while Hong Kong may face challenges in competing with Shenzhen in upstream industries such as UAV design and production, there is significant potential for the development of downstream industries. These include applications in security detection, tourism products, traffic management, logistics cost reduction, and cross-border transportation. Hong Kong also possesses certain advantages in exploring international markets. Therefore, Quat recommended the government to swiftly establish a “Cross-departmental Working Group on the Low Altitude Economy” to establish strategies for the development of this sector.

Yiu Pak-leung highlighted the necessity for the tourism industry in Hong Kong to upgrade and transform by integrating new technological applications. This would provide new experiences for tourists, including the utilisation of UAV technology. Yiu suggested that the government should consider implementing manned aerial sightseeing routes at tourist attractions such as the Sai Kung High Island Reservoir and geological parks, allowing visitors to enjoy aerial tours.

Yiu also mentioned that many companies have shown interest in introducing “sightseeing flying devices.” He hoped that the government would play a supportive and facilitating role in assisting the industry, promoting technological innovation in tourism products, enhancing Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the tourism sector, and providing convenient access channels by removing barriers. These efforts would inject new elements into Hong Kong’s tourism industry and create more distinctive features.