Riding the crest of a wave
Boat trips in the summer are a great way of exploring Hong Kong's shoreline, beaches and outlying islands.
They are increasingly popular with locals and tourists, and people in town for conventions and exhibitions.
Depending on the size of their group and budget, event planners have a choice of vessels, from yachts, catamarans, speed boats, motorised party boats erroneously known as 'junks' and a few of the old-style Chinese sailing vessels that are still in use today.
Castelo Concepts ventured into the boating arena nine years ago with one junk operating out of Sai Kung. It now has six junks that can take up to 40 guests, three based in Sai Kung and three out of Causeway Bay. Day and evening charters for corporate and private bookings are available.
'Junk trips are something people never tire of,' says Brian Parfitt, owner of Castelo Concepts. 'A day out in the fresh air, with delicious food served with unlimited drinks. Our target market is anyone looking to relax and have a good time. Age is no restriction. Evening charters in the harbour are a great way to experience the nightly light show and prove popular with corporate and private charters wanting to showcase everything great about Hong Kong.'
The Hong Kong Catamaran Club started providing a catamaran rental and sailboat training service in 2008 and offers various boat charter and sea activities all year round.
'The best time to learn sailing and go touring is in spring and autumn,' says marketing manager Hermine Kay. 'Summertime is good for family gatherings and for students. With the clear sky, winter is the season for romantic proposals. Still, summer is the peak season and other than corporate customers, young people like to rent our boats to enjoy swimming and activities in the sea.'
The company's boat trip business is targeted at corporate clients. 'In the past, business customers liked to invite their guests to karaoke VIP rooms,' Kay says. 'Nowadays, they prefer discussing business or entertaining their guests on board a yacht.'
Wing Wong, managing director of W Travel, says junk trips are still a niche market. 'From the point of view of travel agents, it's more for corporate incentives, especially top management. Regarding geopark tours by junks [a new eco-tour initiative], we are still pushing the product to tourists, but the only inquiry so far has been from Japan.'