The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, which opens today, will be a magnet for attracting big-spending visitors, say retail landlords and travel industry operators.
"Cruise ship tourists used to be wealthy Western retirees, but this has changed and a growing number of younger people with higher spending power are joining tours," said Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council.
"The opening of the new terminal will bring more business opportunities to Hong Kong in the long term."
Shopping malls in East Kowloon are organising free shuttle buses to ferry visitors to their shops.
The Mariner of the Seas will be the first ship to dock at the terminal, arriving from Singapore today after stopping off at Vietnam. The 3,000 passengers will stay in the city for 20 hours and then sail on to Shanghai.
Czarina Man Ching-chi, a director at MegaBox Development, operator of Kerry Properties' shopping centre, MegaBox in Kowloon Bay, welcomed the opening of the terminal as an opportunity to increase sales.
"Currently about 2 per cent of our shoppers are tourists. We would like to expand the tourist market and with the opening of the terminal we expect the number of tourists in our shopping mall to increase by about 30 per cent," she said.
Only two cruise ships are so far scheduled to dock at the new terminal this year, but Man believes the area will still benefit.
"The impact may not be significant at the beginning. But it will bring more tourists into the districts in the long term and about 18 cruise ships will use the terminal next year," she said.
East Kowloon's retail market would see a growing number of visitors, attracting the attention of more local shoppers.
Plaza Hollywood in Diamond Hill, developed by Wharf Holdings, is also targeting the tourists.
"We believe the visitors from the ship will spend HK$2,000 to HK$5,000 per capita in our shopping mall, higher than the other tourists with a spending per capita ranging between HK$2,000 and HK$3,000," said Candy Lo, promotion and marketing manager of the mall.
"We expect the visitors to be interested in Chinese health products, audio and video appliances, and jewellery and expect about 20 per cent or around 600 of the first batch of tourists to visit our shopping mall and bring in revenue of approximately HK$2.5 million," she said. Wharf will spend HK$1 million to promote the mall and arrange shuttle buses.
Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency leasing manager Fiona Chung expects the visitors calling at the terminal to lift revenue by HK$6 to HK$10 million to the group's Mikiki shopping mall in San Po Kong in the first year.
"We hope about 33 per cent of the tourists will visit our mall. Spending per-capita is expected to be HK$2,000," she added.
Mega Box in Kowloon Bay is operated by Kerry Properties, which is part of the Kerry Group, which, in turn, is the controlling shareholder of the SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post.