My Take

Tricky choice for would-be tourists

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 4:59am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 4:59am

It is getting tricky choosing a holiday destination for this coming Lunar New Year. The top destinations that Hongkongers flock to are all not exactly welcoming places right now.

Parts of the United States and Canada are colder than the South Pole, with a polar bear in Chicago zoo even needing extra protection. Going on a holiday and ending up shovelling snow and sitting in the dark without power and heat is not a very uplifting thought.

Another favourite destination, Britain, is not faring much better, amid the worst run of winter storms for two decades and with dozens of places around the country under flood watch. You can understand packing an umbrella when you head to Britain, but it becomes a bit cumbersome when you must bring along your own canoe.

The chaos that usually descends on the roads and rails of the mainland during the holiday season doesn't make it an attractive choice either.

Thailand is another place where hordes of tourists choose to holiday. But the ongoing troubles in Bangkok makes it a slightly dicey proposition, especially when the colour of your shirt might decide what kind of a welcome you get. The anti-government protesters have said they will not lay siege to the airport, but did not specify colours that tourists should wear for a safe passage.

With almost every colour claimed by different groups, your safest option might be to go shirtless, even if getting onto the flight may be slighty tricky.

The Hong Kong government is generally on the ball about situations in different countries when trouble like this erupts. They have issued a red alert on travel to Bangkok and yellow one for the rest of Thailand. A bit ironic when you consider the colour-coded battle that has been taking place in the country for a few years.

The government does not offer advice on where to go for holidays. But it does issue advisories on travel to different trouble spots. Yesterday it had three countries on its black list, warning people to avoid all travel to Syria, Egypt and the Philippines.

The message is clear to all. That's why the Philippines tourism department figures released last year showed an actual increase in visits by Hongkongers to that country.