I lived in Hong Kong from 2008 to 2018, before returning to Europe to work with PER in Munich and then London. Hong Kong is a city that stays with you throughout your life, no matter where you go.

Nicholas' profile
When I returned to Hong Kong in August 2022, I felt a certain amount of trepidation. I’d not been there for three years, and the global news perpetuated an image of unrest and Covid restrictions. There have certainly been many departures, with people seeking new lives in the UK, Australia and Canada – though this was the case with other milestone events in Hong Kong’s history, such as the handover in 1997.

Last summer, it was still a requirement to wear masks inside and outside (except while exercising), and the Leave Home Safe app was required for entry to any restaurant or event. In March 2023, however, this all changed. Hong Kong began to return to normality, to leave the shadow of Covid behind.

The city has launched the Hello Hong Kong campaign to attract visitors globally, and is giving away 50,000 free flights to drive tourism. At the end of March 2023, Asia’s yearly art highlight, Art Basel Hong Kong, was attended by 86,000 people visiting 177 galleries. The Rugby Sevens is back too.

The business world has also been meeting. In mid-March 2023, the Wealth for Good in Hong Kong Summit was held, as part of an effort to convince at least 200 family offices to choose the city as their base by the end of 2025. At the principal dinner, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said, “For those of you interested in setting up a family office here, I want you to know that the thriving development of your business in Hong Kong is a central policy priority of the Hong Kong government.”

Such positivity has been rumbling under the surface for some time. The Hong Kong government’s May 2021 legislation to eliminate tax on eligible carried interest bolstered its appeal to funds and top investors. A vote of confidence in the city was implied in October 2022 when EQT bought out Baring Private Equity, headquartered in Hong Kong, for USD6.7bn. 
Due to its legal system, free movement of capital and international outlook, the city remains a highly attractive destination for both employees and employers. This is true for sectors beyond financial services. Some metrics point to its having overtaken London as the world’s second largest market (behind New York) in art sales. In the last year, the opening of major new public art galleries M+ and the Palace Museum have bolstered the city’s appeal as Asia’s premier arts destination. Well-rounded cities with an active arts sector tend to be more appealing to commercial leaders than those less entertaining, less liveable destinations.
The government is making efforts to support the local economy. Chief Executive John Lee recently introduced a “Top Talent Pass Scheme”, during a maiden address in which he acknowledged the city had lost around 140,000 people from its workforce in the past two years, and set the aim of bringing in 35,000 qualified people each year to offset this. Visa processes are being streamlined and made automatic for those from the top 100 universities in the world with three years’ work experience.

I detect cautious optimism in Hong Kong, and I find that all the things I love about the city remain here. Its excellent hiking, landscapes and beaches, some of the world’s best value Michelin-starred restaurants, and horse racing at Happy Valley are all within reach. I’m convinced that visitors will be pleasantly surprised by the city’s tangible expressions of both excitement and reassuring normality.