Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Karen Macmillan

This week, Travel Weekly caught up with Hong Kong Tourism Board’s recently appointed regional sales director, Karen Macmillan, to find out how she’s been faring since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

What are you reading?

I started an MBA earlier this year, so I am mainly reading textbooks! Now that I have started at Hong Kong Tourism Board, I am spending a lot of time reading emails, documents, briefs and proposals. I don’t have much spare time to read for leisure.

What are you watching?

Lots of different shows with different members of my family – I think I must have a subscription for every streaming service available! Ted Lasso, Succession, Morning Wars, Clarkson’s Farm and Frayed, just to name a few.

What are you listening to?

I tend to listen to lots of different podcasts, and I recently started listening to audiobooks because I don’t have time to read. Also, music to unwind (but usually I am listening to whatever my boys are playing in the home gym).

What are you cooking?

I’ve really enjoyed having time to cook again. I started experimenting on my family with cuisines from around the world so we could pretend we were on holidays. I am happy to say I have finally mastered my Chinese-style roast pork belly – my sister just gave me an air fryer and it has changed my life!

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

I have been doing lots of walking, cycling and working out at the makeshift home gym to stay both physically and mentally fit. Catching up with friends virtually has also been a great way to keep sane.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

I’ve been lucky enough to spend time reconnecting with friends far and wide (virtually, of course) and enjoying quality time with my family.

Witnessing general kindness in people and watching communities coming together to look after each other has been amazing to see. Here’s hoping these positive traits remain as restrictions ease.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

That I am a really good multi-tasker and I have to keep busy.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

Stay connected with your friends, colleagues, stakeholders and partners in the industry, and know that you aren’t alone. It has definitely been a tough 20 months, and now that the international travel ban is being lifted and restrictions are starting to ease, hopefully everyone can see some light at the end of the tunnel and start having some fun!

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

The Snowy Mountains. We usually go to the snow a couple of times a year and we always have a great time, and the scenery is spectacular.

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

There are a couple. We had a family reunion with my Scottish relatives in Bali in January 2019 – there were around 20 of us and it was a lovely holiday full of love and laughter. I also convinced my mum, my sister and her family to join us on an Alaskan Cruise in October 2019. It was such a fun trip with great experiences, and my mum is so thankful that she got to tick Alaska off her bucket list.

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

Everywhere! But first, my family and I will go back to the UK to see relatives and hopefully go skiing in Europe, with a stopover in Hong Kong.


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