Tourists

Ngong Ping 360

Cable car bucks Hong Kong tourism slump with 5.5 per cent rise in visitors

Lantau attraction helped by even guest mix and strong online ticket sales

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 7:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 7:01am

Lantau Island cable car operator Ngong Ping 360 enjoyed 5.5 per cent growth in visitors last year despite an overall weakness in Hong Kong’s tourism market, thanks to strong online ticket sales and a rise in arrivals from across the region.

But the operator expects a 40 per cent drop in visitors this year as the service is closed for five months to replace cables. It will reopen in early June.

Stella Kwan Mun-yee, managing director of Ngong Ping 360, attributed its decent performance to a relatively even distribution of guest mix compared with the city’s other attractions.

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“Our business was less affected by the overall decline of mainland tourists,” Kwan said, as only about 28 per cent of its customers were from mainland China and Macau, while 57 per cent were from Western and Asian countries.

Mainland tourists accounted for about 40 per cent of Ocean Park and Disneyland’s visitors.

The 5.7km cable car runs from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping Village on Lantau.

Kwan said the Philippines, India and Japan markets did exceptionally well last year, with visitor growth of 48, 31 and 30 per cent respectively over 2015.

Overall arrivals to the city in 2016 fell 4.5 per cent to 56.65 million, with those from the mainland dropping 6.7 per cent.

Thriving e-commerce across the border also helped. Ticket sales through online platforms – mainly on the mainland and Taiwan – surged 58 per cent and now contribute about 20 per cent of total sales.

But Kwan said it was impossible to achieve the same numbers this year due to the closure of the cable car service from January.

“There is no way we can catch up the level last year,” Kwan admitted, projecting a 40 per cent decline in visitor numbers over last year.

At the same time, Hong Kong Disneyland is pressing ahead with its third hotel, offering 750 rooms.

Scheduled to open on April 30, Disney Explorers Lodge, which cost HK$4.3 billion, will have rooms starting at HK$2,200 – slightly lower than at its two existing hotels.

The launch of the seven-storey hotel will boost the Lantau resort’s total capacity to 1,750 rooms, but the occupancy rate of the two existing hotels dropped to 79 per cent in 2015, from 93 per cent in 2014.