Service with a smile

Wong Yat-hei

Ambassadors are determined to boost HK's image as a tourism hub

Wong Yat-hei |

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Ha Wui (left) and Yiu Lok-man.
Tourism is a key pillar of Hong Kong's economy, and there's a lot we can do to make visitors feel at home. Participants in the Hong Kong Young Ambassador Scheme (HKYAS) get an opportunity to promote tourism, boost their understanding of the city's rich culture and widen their horizons.

The ambassadors, stationed at tourist spots such as the Peak Tower and the Central Star Ferry pier, take part in tourism promotion activities.

The scheme, organised by The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and the Tourism Commission, was launched in 2001.

Yiu Lok-man, 23, who is pursuing a master's degree in business, has been an ambassador since 2004. He says he enjoys helping tourists and the scheme has helped him become a more mature person.

'I used to be soft-spoken, but I completely changed after joining the scheme. It gave me a chance to reach out to people and offer help. When I am at tourist spots, I approach visitors and see what I can do for them,' he says.

'My most memorable experience was during Christmas when several ambassadors came together to sing at the Star Ferry pier and on ferries to entertain tourists.'

This year, Yiu was appointed chairman of the Hong Kong Youth Ambassador Alumni Association. He has to train newcomers, and it's no easy task.

'We're volunteers with no pay, and it's my duty to keep the ambassadors inspired and help them develop a sense of belonging to the organisation [HKYAS],' he says.

'As their mentor I have to strike a balance between discipline and friendship, and that's tough. I try to see things from the ambassadors' point of view when I talk to them.'

The ultimate goal of the scheme is to help tourists have an enjoyable time in Hong Kong so that they will come back again.

'We want all ambassadors to learn from the job and enjoy it. It's a great feeling when you can provide quality service to others,' says Yiu.

Ha Wui, a Form Six student from Diocesan Girls' School, joined the scheme because she wanted to learn more about Hong Kong.

'My family is from Shanghai so we are not familiar with Hong Kong culture.

'The experience I've gained from the ambassador scheme is really valuable. It taught me that Hong Kong is not only about business and making money, it also has cultural assets,' says the 17-year-old.

The DGS student says she has learned a lot about quality service and hospitality. 'Hong Kong is a service-oriented economy so it's important to provide high-quality services. I think this should not be limited to tourism. We should have this attitude towards friends and families, too,' she says.