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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 11:53am
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong needs to double hotel rooms in 10 years

Since 2008 overnight visitors have increased 37 per cent to almost 24 million a year, with more than 70 per cent from the mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 July, 2013, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:06pm

The number of hotel rooms in Hong Kong needs to be almost doubled in the next 10 years as more tourists flock to the city, according to the head of a government economic task force.

Jack So Chak-kwong said a task force study had found tourist numbers would rise steeply in the coming decade, especially after the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the high-speed cross-border railway.

"We forecast that the number of hotel rooms in Hong Kong needs to be almost doubled in the coming 10 years," said So, head of the Economic Development Commission task force on convention and exhibition industries and tourism.

"It is a very big challenge because Hong Kong has a huge shortage of land."

So made his remarks at the commission's second meeting, which identified as another key issue the need to tackle a persistent drop-off in manpower after 2018, so it would not affect the city's economic development.

So did not specify how many visitors would arrive over the next 10 years.

According to figures from the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Tourism Commission, the number of overnight visitors rose 37.2 per cent from 17.3 million in 2008 to 23.7 million last year. The number of visitors, who do not spend a night in Hong Kong more than doubled, from 12.1 million in 2008 to 24.8 million last year.

More than 70 per cent of the city's visitors last year were from the mainland, with about 43 per cent of them spending at least one night in Hong Kong.

So said Hong Kong should actively attract more big-spending travellers and build more tourist attractions, but there should also be measures to minimise the impact of the visitor influx on locals.

Tourism Board statistics show that this year there are 243 hotels providing 71,959 rooms. The number of rooms will increase by 2,525 next year, according to information provided by developers that takes into account only rooms approved by the Building Authority up to March this year.

By 2017, there will be 273 hotels providing a total of 76,603 rooms, representing an increase of 6 per cent from this year. Adding other hotel projects whose completion date has yet to be announced, the number will further increase by 7,368, representing only 16.7 per cent more rooms than this year.

Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners executive director Michael Li Hon-shing supported building more hotels, but could not say if doubling the number of rooms was necessary because he did not know how So conducted the study.

The average occupancy rate of hotels had remained at 87 per cent in the past few years, he added.



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So we had 24 million overnight visitors and 25 million day-trip visitors last year. That makes 49 million in total. Something tells me it will be even more this year.

That takes us well past Paris (28 million visitors pa), London (15 million visitors pa, Olympics included) or Singapore (13 million visitors pa).

Does nobody in our benevolent government see that Hong Kong attracting four times as many visitors as London is perhaps not a great thing? And that if this doubles again in 10 years, that situation will be outright insane? 100 million visitors per year to a city of -by then- 8 million people? Really?

We need a completely new tourism policy. Not one that is aimed at attracting as many visitors as possible, but one that is aimed at attracting a manageable number, of the right kind (in particular day-trip shoppers contribute next to nothing to the local economy, on the contrary, they just clog the MTR and drive up retail rents) and think about how we can put in place measures to handle these large numbers.

Do we really want to build another 70,000 hotel rooms in the coming 10 years? We are struggling to find a way to hit the 400,000 housing supply target over that same period. Building 70,000 hotel rooms sure won't help with that.
It's time to challenge the assumption that growth is always beneficial, more visitors would reduce quality of life for HK residents due to further crowding and require more environmental damage due to more hotels, infrastructure, garbage to be disposed of. The rapid loss of retail diversity as landlords encourage big fashion brands to displace all other choices must eventually reduce the attraction of HK to everyone - HK shopping malls are almost indistuishable from those in a hundred other cities in China and worldwide.
Time to disband the Economic Development Commission.
Double in ten years? Using the rule of 72, that means it has to have 7.2% growth every year for the next 10 years. It seems too optimistic as a projection of tourism growth.
Or maybe the increase will flatten. How many times are Chinese going to want to come to Hong Kong after they've been once? China faces much lower economic growth in the future than it has experienced in the previous 10 years. Seems like these projections are overly optimistic. In 10 years I would guess that the price of imported good in China will be closer to the prices of Hong Kong. Lots of Chinese people are unduly optimistic about their financial situation because they are living at the end of a very long property boom. There are only two ways for that to go, going forward either flat or decline. So there is likely to be an "anti-wealth" effect influencing Chinese buying decisions in the future. That will depress spending on luxuries like foreign travel.
If only the headline, which says one room has to be doubled in size, were right. Change it to Despoilation of Hong Kong to Hit Unimaginable Levels.


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