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.