The government has unveiled measures worth more than HK$300 million to provide relief to travel agencies and tour guides to help them ride out the ongoing downturn in the trade.

Hong Kong’s tourism sector has been experiencing a downturn as the arrivals to the city dropped dramatically in the past few months, due to the ongoing anti-government protests and an economic slowdown on the mainland.

The government aid will include measures to drive down the operating costs of companies and offering help to workers who’re being affected.

Announcing the new measures, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said travel firms will not need to pay their annual fees to the government this year. It is not clear how much money that will involve.

As for the city’s 6,000 tour guides, Yau said the government will pump an extra HK$6 million into the Travel Industry Council for training courses that they’ll have to attend when they renew their licence.

Food trucks operated under government permits will also see their monthly rents cut by half for the next six months. Each truck will be able to save HK$18,000 each month, said Yau.

At the same time, the Employees Retraining Board will launch 36 new courses for workers who’ve been sacked or asked to go on unpaid leave since June.

They will receive up to HK$4,000 a month each for attending the courses which are aimed at developing new job skills. Ten thousand workers are expected to benefit from this.

That retraining programme alone is expected to cost HK$300 million.