Visitors tipped to exceed 30m

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am
 

Tourism chiefs are predicting another bumper year for visitors to Hong Kong, despite rising competition and the recent global stock market decline.

Visitor numbers will rise 8 per cent, to 30.43 million, from last year's record 28.17 million and they will spend HK$152.7 billion, up 10.7 per cent from last year, the Hong Kong Tourism Board predicts.

Of the total, more than half of the tourists - 16.76 million - are expected to be from the mainland, an increase of 8.3 per cent.

'We are cautiously optimistic about this year's outlook for the tourism industry,' the board's executive director, Anthony Lau Chun-hon, said.

Recent volatility in financial markets worldwide, intensifying competition from the mainland, Macau and other neighbours and the increase in direct international flights to and from the mainland all clouded the outlook for Hong Kong, he said.

Its proposed budget shows that the board would spend more on marketing the city in big visitor markets such as the mainland, India, South Korea, Canada, the Middle East and Russia.

It hoped to appoint a representative in Dubai this year, Mr Lau said. It would also study the Russian market to better understand visitor needs. The board already has a Russian representative.

The single largest share of the budget, HK$103.9 million, will go towards marketing a calendar of local activities and events to overseas visitors. About HK$85 million will be spent on promoting the city as somewhere to celebrate Christmas, New Year and Lunar New Year, and to have a summer holiday.

Mr Lau said the board expected the annual two-month shopping festival this summer to include dining elements to attract more families and young women.

The board also aims to secure more corporate sponsorship and to co-promote events during peak periods for visitors, such as Halloween.

It will spend HK$22.7 million promoting the city as a venue for corporate events - especially for small- and medium-sized businesses - and as a place to visit by cruise liner or from which to take a cruise.

Dedicated teams would be set up to service companies in India and on the mainland, Mr Lau said, and the board intended to provide onboard lectures to introduce Hong Kong to visiting cruise passengers.

Under fire for lavish spending and lax accounting, the board is proposing to cut its budget by 5 per cent and focus its marketing on key visitor markets. It expects it will have spent HK$350.5 million this financial year and is proposing a budget of HK$331.9 million for the next one.

Its spending in Hong Kong would shrink more than 12 per cent, to HK$156.6 million.

The Legislative Council's panel on economic development will discuss the proposal on Monday.

Big spenders

The board is predicting that overnight visitors will spend 4.8 per cent more this year

The amount, per head, it expects them to spend, in Hong Kong dollars, is: $5,411

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Visitors tipped to exceed 30m

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