Only five of 15 food trucks under Hong Kong tourism plan have brought in HK$1 million in eight months
In another blow to scheme expected to attract visitors to the city, minister admits ‘cases of failure’
After high-stakes cook-off auditions, millions of dollars invested and a much-trumpeted roll-out across the city, only five of 15 businesses in the government’s food truck scheme have brought in HK$1 million in their first eight months.
The city’s minister for commerce revealed as much on Monday, and admitted failures in the scheme, which officials once hoped would help lift the tourism industry out of a slump.
Three vendors from the initial 16 have already abandoned the scheme, which kicked off in February under the previous administration. Only two applicants have joined from the waiting list since, leaving only 15 on the streets and one spot vacant.
On Monday morning, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah briefed the Legislative Council’s economic development panel on his bureau’s activity.
Lawmaker Wong Ting-kwong, who represents the import and export sector, asked if the government would relax the rules for businesses under the truck scheme.
Vendors have to meet stringent safety and hygiene requirements, adding to the difficulty for new players on the scene.
But Yau said there had been successes.
“Out of 15 food trucks, five of them had total revenue of more than HK$1 million [over the past eight months],” Yau said. “But of course, some others did not do as well.”
The government did not give details on the trucks’ profits, but those revenues will have to be weighed against monthly rents and initial investment, which was up to HK$1 million according to one operator.
Carrie Lam Wai-kit, operator of the Pineapple Canteen truck, said there were other elements besides profit that were equally important to a business. “This [scheme] has brought us great popularity and exposure – these benefits cannot be measured by money.”
Having earned a following with her signature Hong Kong-style pineapple buns, Lam is opening her first shop outside Tung Chung MTR station in December.
Meanwhile, Yau said the government would wait and see how things panned out with the scheme. Officials will publish an evaluation report in the fourth quarter of 2018, before the pilot scheme ends in February 2019.
From 192 applicants for the spots, 51 were shortlisted to participate in a cook-off contest, from which 16 were chosen to hawk their fare at tourist spots around the city.
Yau said Hong Kong’s tourism chiefs would work with their mainland counterparts to jointly promote regional tourism, including in the Great Bay Area – a cluster of cities in Guangdong province, plus Hong Kong and Macau.