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After the cancellation of the event last year due to political protest, the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, the biggest consumer wine event for locals and tourists in the city, is going to bring the real-life event online for the first time this year.

HKTB chairman Dr YK Pang said: “The third wave of Covid-19 infection is putting further pressure on the local economy. Business operations in general have become even more difficult than the first half of the year. As the ‘Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival’ is one of the city’s most anticipated annual events, we have decided to change our strategy and move the event to the virtual space in view of the Covid-19 situation.

“Organising it virtually will allow us to continue to boost the local economy without compromising the health and safety of the exhibitors and participants. As in previous editions, wine merchants will be able to promote their products, and opportunities will be generated for related sectors. Leveraging the event, we will sustain Hong Kong’s global exposure by promoting the city’s image as a culinary capital to visitors worldwide.”

As the organisation expalined, the first online Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival will run for several weeks. The online edition will feature a line-up of programmes and a one-stop online hub with exclusive offers from hundreds of wine merchants and restaurants.

Virtual gastronomic experiences, such as themed wine-tasting classes taught by wine experts and mixologists and cooking demonstrations given by top chefs, will be introduced. The objective of the organisation is to let “locals and fans of Hong Kong can enjoy world-class wine and dining experiences through these online activities without worrying about social-distancing restrictions or time and geographical constraints”.

Merchants who have initially registered for the real-life Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival can take part in the online version for free. Details will be announced in due course.

Ben Cheung, trading & brand manager of Watson’s Wine said: “Online shopping has become an inevitable trend during the pandemic. We believe spending sentiment will not diminish even when the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival is held online. Also, the event has always been popular among locals. We are confident that it will retain its appeal despite the new format. That is why we are supporting the event again this year and are planning to present limited-time offers. We hope to give locals a taste of top-quality products at attractive prices.”

A representative of Restaurant FAM said: “This year’s Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival not only offers a one-stop promotion platform for merchants, but the new virtual format will also facilitate our reach to potential customers. We will work with the HKTB to provide unique virtual experiences such as wine pairing experiences and cooking demonstrations with a view to increasing awareness of our brand among consumers.”

Quite a few major industry events had responded to the ‘new normal’ under the pandemic by creative solutions. For example, Chengdu Wine Fair hosted its spring fair at the end of July.

The pandemic situation in Hong Kong was slightly under control in May and June, and the government lifted social distancing measures to allow economic activities in the city. However, as the third wave of the pandemic kicked in again in early July, the city has again returned to a cautious state of mind and a number of events have been cancelled as the government imposed a ban on public gatherings of over two people.

The HKTB announced that Hong Kong received 20,600 visitors in July 2020, representing a daily average of about 660, a 99.6% drop year on year.

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