Weak yen and Australian dollar driving outbound tourism growth

Outbound revenue is up 16pc as weaker currencies lure more Hongkongers abroad

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 5:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 5:40am

Outbound tourism has seen its strongest growth this year since 2010, as weakening foreign currencies prompt Hongkongers to head abroad for bargains.

According to the Travel Industry Council, revenue from outbound tourism in the first 11 months increased 16 per cent to HK$14 billion.

The momentum grew even stronger this month, as returns for the first 10 days of December rose 35 per cent.

The rise is the biggest since such revenue grew 27 per cent in the 2009-10 financial year.

"The Japanese yen has depreciated, making [Japan] the top destination for Christmas," the council's executive director, Joseph Tung Yao-chung, said.

Over the past year, the yen and the Australian dollar have gone down by more than one-fifth and 15 per cent against the Hong Kong dollar, respectively.

The opening of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal has also helped to boost interest in cruises.

"Apart from going on vessels that depart from Hong Kong, people are also flying to overseas destinations such as Alaska or the Mediterranean, where they join cruise tours," Tung said.

Border points have recorded 77 million outbound departures by local residents this year to December - equal to more than 10 trips per person.

EGL Tours executive director Steve Huen Kwok-chuen said the agency had seen a more than 20 per cent growth in revenue, the biggest jump in about four years.

"Mainland tourists come to Hong Kong for shopping. Hongkongers go abroad to shop and dine at cheaper prices," Huen said.

A bowl of ramen costs on average about HK$80 here, but only 700 yen (about HK$52) in Japan, he said.

Political instability in Thailand disrupted tours to Bangkok, but did not undermine the Christmas numbers.

"The impact is not big. People shift to alternatives such as Vietnam, Sabah [in Malaysia] or Indonesia, where the weather is warm and packages are similarly priced," Huen said.

Wing On Travel also saw revenue growth of more than 10 per cent. The fastest developing areas are Malaysia, Australia and cruising tours.

"Travellers love Malaysia for theme parks including Legoland Malaysia and Hello Kitty Land," assistant general manager for Asia and long-haul travel Simon Ma Sai-man said.

"For Australia, we have stepped up promotion for Tasmania, especially its oysters and lavender."