The Hong Kong Tourism Board opened an office in Taipei yesterday, to attract more family and overnight travellers from Taiwan.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said at the opening ceremony that the Taiwanese market - the second-biggest source of tourists to Hong Kong - was important for tourism in the city.
He said two new initiatives would help boost their arrival numbers: starting this month, holders of 'mainland travel permits for Taiwan residents' can stay in the city for 30 days, increased from a week. And before their trip, they will be able to register their travel information online to save time. The website is not yet in operation.
Hong Kong, a traditional holiday destination for Taiwanese, had feared its market was under threat after direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan were launched in 2008.
With the new office, the board aims to attract more visitors from Kaohsiung, Taichung and other cities besides Taipei.
In the first six months of the year, about 380,000 tourists came from Taiwan and stayed overnight - an 11 per cent increase from the same period last year. Meanwhile, the number of tourists from Taiwan who did not spend the night has dropped by almost 6 per cent, to about 675,000.
'These travellers who don't stay overnight usually spend about HK$600 each while they're here. And those who stay overnight spend over HK$5,000 on average,' said the board's executive director, Anthony Lau Chun-hon.