Tourists turned off by Peak fee

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 January, 2008, 12:00am

Majority of mainlanders refuse to pay HK$20 to access Sky Terrace viewing deck

A new charge imposed on visitors wanting to take in the view from the Peak Tower observation deck deters about 90 per cent of mainland tourists, tour operators say.

Some Hongkongers are also unhappy with the recently introduced HK$20 charge on people who want to enjoy panoramic views of the city and its surrounds from the Peak Tower's highest point.

Hong Kong Inbound Travel Association president Charles Ng Kwong-wai said only 10 per cent of mainland visitors joining inbound tours would pay to get up there.

'Many of the tourists are appalled, complaining about why they must pay to look at the famous night view of Hong Kong,' he said.

Mr Ng said most operators took tourists to a lookout point on Magazine Gap in Mid-Levels but some did not mind taking them further up to The Peak for a better view.

'Before the entry fee was introduced, some guides used to bring tourists to the [Peak] observation deck even though it cost the agency more time and petrol,' he said.

'Right now, many tourists choose not to go when they are told that they will have to pay extra.'

Peak Tower Limited relaunched its rooftop observation deck as the Sky Terrace last September to add to its attraction as a tourism venue.

But the effort has translated into extra cost for visitors - HK$20 for adults and HK$10 for children and the elderly.

A recent visit by The South China Morning Post found that much of the observation deck has remained the same as before fees were introduced - except that a mini-gallery with artworks on display has been installed.

The Peak Tower deputy general manager May Tsang Ying-mei said charging visitors a fee to reach the Sky Terrace was part of the company's new strategy to improve its image. 'We hope to reinforce a message that visiting The Peak is a unique experience for tourists,' she said.

Ms Tsang said the company had studied various destinations, including the Macau Tower and the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, before imposing the HK$20 fee.

'Visitors have to pay about HK$80 for the Macau Tower and HK$49 for the Oriental Pearl Tower. After considering the market in Hong Kong, we think that the present charge is reasonable,' she said.

Ms Tsang said she had not heard many comments from tourists about the new charges and about 130,000 people had visited the Sky Terrace since September.

A Tourism Commission spokeswoman said the introduction of Sky Terrace admission fees was entirely a commercial decision. But, she said: 'Apart from the Peak Tower, there are other vantage points available on The Peak, including the Lugard Road lookout points. 'Visitors can continue to enjoy spectacular views of our city's skyline and harbour for free.'

She added the Tourism Board would publicise various vantage points on The Peak and continue to promote different ways of exploring The Peak, such as the Peak Tram, the Peak Round Walk and the Victoria Peak Garden.

Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yiu-chung agreed that the decision to charge visitors was a commercial one.

'Of course we hope they will not impose fees,' he said. 'But it is a commercial operation and the company has its considerations.'

He said there were other places on The Peak from which to enjoy beautiful views. 'I prefer walking further to the Lion's Pavilion, which is a more picturesque but less commercial destination,' he said.