Why so many tourists are giving Disneyland a wide berth

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am

If I had the chance to travel to France, I would not go to Disneyland.

France is a country with such a unique culture, why bother to spend time in globalised theme park that has nothing to do with the French?

Visitors coming to Hong Kong may feel the same way and this might explain why Disney is now fighting falling attendances.

Many tourists want to explore the character of the place they are visiting, by experiencing the lives of the locals, tasting the local food and understanding the culture. It is far more interesting than visiting the product of a global organisation they can find in other countries. Hong Kong is famous for being a city that never sleeps. The vibrant street life and stunning night views, are our trademarks. In the same way, Macau's St Paul's ruins, its Portuguese-style streets and piazzas and Shanghai's riverfront heritage and French villas transformed into restaurants, represent the history and culture of these cities. Our street markets, the fish market in Aberdeen, hawker stalls in Mong Kok and Temple Street, restaurants and galleries near the Mid-Levels escalator, dai pai dongs and cha chaan teng in any old districts, contain both tangible and intangible traces that make up the uniqueness of Hong Kong.

The tourism board has helped organised tourist heritage trails, such as the Central architecture walk (with the Hong Kong Institute of Architects) to promote local culture. However, with the relocation of Queen's Pier and the redevelopment of Graham Street and Peel Street and other future threats to our heritage, there will be less to see.

New programmes like a tram tour could be considered so tourists can experience the lively street culture of areas like Western District, Wan Chai, North Point and Shau Kei Wan.

Also, cultural tourism can be encouraged by developing the local arts, such as the Fringe Club and Cattle Depot artists' village. And I would like to see the adaptive reuse of vacant factories in old districts such as San Po Kong, where you could have a creative industry village, similar to one that exists in Shanghai.

Fanny Ang, North Point