Diversity the key to keeping tourists happy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 August, 2014, 4:42am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 August, 2014, 4:51am

Hong Kong has been getting it right when it comes to tourists. Polytechnic University's annual satisfaction index shows that visitors have never been happier, with attractions top of their list. But digging into the numbers reveals that there is still room for improvement, particularly when it comes to Japanese and South Koreans. Their declining sense of enjoyment highlights the importance of diversity for our city.

Of the groups surveyed, Australians and New Zealanders were most satisfied with Hong Kong, helping push the index to 75.96 out of 100, the highest since the study began in 2009. Mainland visitors have never been happier since that year, the index for those questioned rising 1.89 points year on year to 73.97; hardly surprising given that their overwhelming numbers mean our city has become adept at catering to their needs. Three-quarters of the 54.3 million people who visited last year were mainland Chinese. Their best experiences were transport, attractions and shopping, and their worst were hotels.

Japanese and South Koreans saw things differently, with their satisfaction index slipping to 67.59. They praised our hotels and were most critical of shops. Such differences in opinion are to be expected. Depending on backgrounds and culture, people have varying expectations and preferences.

The mainland tourist influx has annoyed some Hongkongers, who complain of product shortages and favourite shops and restaurants being replaced by retail outlets catering to the cross-border visitors. That will be resolved in time by our free market, which seizes on opportunities and adjusts accordingly. But the rush to profit can sometimes mean that lesser markets are paid insufficient attention. That could well be the case with our northeastern Asian visitors.

Some tourists find street markets fascinating, others prefer luxury shops, while there are those who like to browse in supermarkets. It is a diversity that those in the tourism industry should always be mindful of.