image image

Hong Kong economy

With exit of third Hong Kong food truck Creative Yummy, can tourism scheme survive?

Another setback in just eight months for struggling industry has prompted calls for government intervention

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 October, 2017, 11:44am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 October, 2017, 2:48pm

The food truck scheme in Hong Kong was dealt another blow with a third operator confirming its decision to bow out on Friday, prompting calls for the government to step in to save the embattled tourism plan.

Creative Yummy, which serves grilled cheese sandwiches, said it had earlier told the Tourism Commission under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of its decision. The move comes less than four months after the launch of its business.

The food truck was run by Raymond Chu Wan-man, a professional chef who worked in the UK for more than a decade. In an earlier interview, he told the Post that he had returned to Hong Kong to operate under the scheme.

Setback for Hong Kong food truck scheme as operator pulls out

Chu said last year: “Food trucks are very popular in the UK and US. Hong Kong should also give opportunities to those who are interested in making their own dishes.”

Creative Yummy is the third food truck operator to quit the scene since the city’s first batch of 16 food trucks was rolled out at tourist spots in February for a two-year pilot scheme.

Two operators – Christy Cafe, and Xiao Tian Gu – earlier withdrew, blaming in part operating restrictions. Xiao Tian Gu serves dessert. Other operators had also complained about poor locations designated by the government.

The bureau had said the two food trucks’ withdrawal was “due to their business considerations” and “how to compete for business and excel on a level playing field was a challenge to the food truck operators”.

Tourism sector legislator Yiu Si-wing said: “The government should meet the operators to understand their difficulties and introduce measures to help them, and also save the scheme.

“It is a government scheme. The government cannot just sit back and say the pulling out of the food trucks are their business considerations. We are only eight months into the scheme.”

According to the commission, there would be 15 food trucks left operating, including two new vendors, Jajambao, and The Butchers Club, which could open for business in one or two months.

Why Hong Kong’s food truck scheme is failing to get into gear

Jajambao serves vegetarian Chinese food and The Butchers Club serves hamburgers. They are supposed to replace Christy Cafe and Xiao Tian Gu.

The commission said there would not be a replacement for Creative Yummy as there were no candidates on the waiting list.

Yiu said he heard of complaints by some food truck operators about poor locations and urged the government to designate more areas for food trucks to operate.

The food truck scheme is a new tourism initiative announced by then financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in the 2015-2016 budget.

A total of 192 applications were received last year, of which 51 were shortlisted to participate in a contest. Sixteen winning operators joined the two-year pilot scheme.

They will rotate around eight designated tourist spots, such as Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Ocean Park.