With Hong Kong spending so much time in the news lately thanks to ongoing protests, and more recently the destination being impacted by a recession, travelers are left wondering whether it’s safe to visit amid all of the challenges.
At least one travel industry insider says the answer to that question is yes, but proceed with caution.
Adam St. John, CEO of the travel health and safety platform Sitata, recently spoke with TravelPulse about when it’s safe to travel or return to destinations that are dealing with a crisis, a particularly relevant topic given the ongoing upheaval in Hong Kong.
Sitata, an app that uses AI technology to monitor global happenings around the clock for its users (keeping travelers updated about events in real-time) has helped travelers on the ground in Hong Kong by publishing alerts in advance of rallies.
Its’ analysts continue to post updates and developments as they happen for those in the area and those planning to travel to Hong Kong.
During a recent conversation with TravelPulse, St. John said travel to the destination is still possible, particularly business travel, but must be approached wisely.
“It really comes down to your behaviors when you travel and how informed you are,” began St. John. “First and foremost, you want to stay informed and don’t put yourself at unnecessary risk.”
In the case of Hong Kong specifically, many of the protest events take place in the evenings or on weekends when protesters aren’t working. Given that reality, St. John advises visitors to stay informed while in the city and do most exploring during the day, not straying too far in the evenings.
It’s also a good idea to be mindful of whether public transit is operating or being impacted by demonstrations and rallies, said St. John.
“A lot of protests have affected public transit,” explained St. John, who was preparing to embark on a business trip to Hong Kong shortly after speaking to TravelPulse.
“My personal plans are to stick to my business plans,” said St. John. “And if I see anything happening, I’m going to walk the other way. If I was going there for tourism, it would be much the same message. It’s really important to stay out of these types of events no matter how exciting they might seem.”
In August, the United States Department of State updated its travel advisory for Hong Kong warning American citizens about potentially dangerous clashes between protestors and the local government.
According to the State Department’s official website, the Level 2 warning tells Americans to exercise increased caution when visiting Hong Kong due to civil unrest and organized protests that have taken place there since June.
In addition to the updated travel advisory from the U.S., several other countries have issued similar warnings to their citizens, including Australia, Britain, Ireland, Japan, and Singapore.
“Most recommendations are to avoid any unnecessary travel at this time,” said St. John. “Whether or not you decide to go as a tourist is your own choice but I think I would stick with the recommendations of avoiding unnecessary travel.”
For those travelers who do choose to visit Hong Kong, Sitata can help you do so with more information at your fingertips, thus lowering anxieties.
The app does everything from tracking flight delays to notifying users of violence at their intended destination, to connecting travelers with doctors if they get sick while away from home.
Sitata communicates with users in a variety of ways including emails and push notifications through the app.
Sitata also provides Google maps showing users highlighted regions or map pins of where activities are taking place, and a summary of what’s happening, St. John said.
The protests in Hong Kong have proved a vital example of how such an app might come in handy. It has been tracking events since they first began back in June and updating users all along the way.
“Our mission is to keep travel worry-free,” said St. John. “We want to be your number one travel companion providing real-time intelligence and giving assistance if you need it.”