Hong Kong Tourism Enters New Era

The tourism business of Hong Kong is entering an exciting new era in 2001, with an upgraded structure and management, a new community-wide tourism initiative and continued growth forecast for visitor arrivals.

Following a robust growth of visitor arrivals in 2000, the visitor arrivals in Hong Kong are expected to increase 7.8 percent to 14.075 million and the receipts are to grow 8.8 percent to 66.95 billion HK dollars (US$8.58 billion), according to the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA) Wednesday.

Selina Chow, chairman of the HKTA, told reporters that the strong performance lifts Hong Kong to the 14th place in the overall rankings of world tourism arrivals by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) in 2000.

The 2000 tourism arrivals and receipts of Hong Kong increased by 15.3 percent to 13.06 million, and by 9.4 percent to 61.5 billion HK dollars (US$7.88 billion), respectively.

Both the arrivals and receipts figures are more than double the global average of 7.4 percent and 4.5 percent, according to the WTO.

Within Asia, Hong Kong ranks second only to the Chinese mainland in tourism arrivals and is more than three million more than Malaysia that had 10 million last year.

In the light of such encouraging growth in 2000, Chow said Hong Kong can't simply afford to let itself become complacent.

The competition from other destinations, economic uncertainty in many of Hong Kong's key source markets, and any significant upsurge of hotel or retail prices could seriously affect Hong Kong's fragile recovery, she noted.

But she said the good news is that the tourism industry is getting itself into much better shape to meet these challenges.

The Hong Kong Tourism Commission is now well established and making an important contribution in setting policies for Hong Kong's future tourism development. Meanwhile, a bill is now going through the Legislative Council that will reconstitute the HKTA as the Hong Kong Tourism Board, tentatively at the beginning of April 2001.

"One important implication of this is that we shall no longer be an organization of members, but one that truly represents Hong Kong's entire tourism industry," Chow said.

An equally important forthcoming development is the launch in April of "City of Life: Hong Kong Is It!", a community-wide initiative to promote Hong Kong's huge variety of events, attractions and cultural heritage both domestically and around the world.

"With the active involvement of the 18 district councils, it will truly involve the whole Hong Kong community and also run well beyond one year, at least until early 2003," she said.

Grace Lee, acting executive director of the HKTA, said short-haul market again showed the strongest growth in 2000, with arrivals from South Korea rising 28 percent, the Chinese mainland 18.1 percent and Japan 17.7 percent.

Visitors from the Americas continued to be the highest spenders with an average of 4,965 HK dollars (US$636.5), while those from the mainland are catching up fast at 4,831 HK dollars (US$619.3), and Taiwan visitors spent an average of 4,792 HK dollars (US$614.3).

Lee said that 55 percent of resources this year will be dedicated to capturing the higher-yielding long-haul markets, as well as convention and exhibition, corporate meeting and incentive business.

Outlining the HKTA's market strategies for 2001/2002, Tony Tse, acting deputy executive director, said East Asia is forecast to continue leading world tourism growth, and Hong Kong is well positioned to benefit from this, with its "City of Life" branding now well established in all markets.

In keeping with worldwide consumer trends, Tse said the HKTA is continuing to target important growth segments such as seniors, single professional women, heritage and culture lovers and "green tourists."

The importance of online marketing is also well recognized, with the HKTA's new DiscoverHongKong.com website now attracting over 25 million hits a month and offering an ideal medium for promoting Hong Kong's attractions directly to consumers worldwide.

"The logical development from this is developing an online booking system, which is already a booming market in the United States," Tse said.

"We believe that the HKTA is an ideal position to act as facilitator for the tourism industry as a whole," he said. "The newly-structured Hong Kong Tourism Board can benefit the industry at large, as we move into a more challenging and competitive tourism era than ever before."

(People’s Daily 02/14/2001)