HARBOUR PLAZA Resort City is looking to tap the strong purchasing power of overseas visitors and attract them to stay at its serviced suites. General manager Stephen Chu said it was keen to reach out to international customers by launching advertising and promotions abroad. More foreign travellers were visiting Hong Kong for longer stays as the depreciation of the US dollar had increased their purchasing power in the city. Located in Tin Shui Wai, in the New Territories, Harbour Plaza Resort City has 1,102 hotel rooms, about half of which are leased out as serviced suites to people seeking flexible accommodation. Of the current tenant mix, local residents account for 41 per cent, while expatriates including native English teachers, stewardesses and pilots represent 30 per cent. Another 12 per cent are returning Chinese, 8 per cent are mainland travellers, 4 per cent are overseas business travellers, and 5 per cent are overseas tourists. Mr Chu said the mix of tenants had changed over the years, with an increasing number of expats and overseas travellers moving in. When the hotel opened in 1999, marketing was concentrated on local residents which represented 90 per cent or more of tenants. 'The percentage of local residents is going down with the presence of more expatriates and overseas visitors. The number of Australians, Canadians and mainlanders is rising,' he said. Mr Chu said Harbour Plaza Resort City had a magnificent year in terms of revenue and occupancy in 2004, with the average occupancy rate at 94 per cent. 'In July and August, it even reached 99.5 per cent, the highest since the opening in 1999. 'This outstanding result was mainly induced by the strong economy, the improvement in the employment market and the upturn of the property market.' Local guests opted for serviced apartments as a result of home renovations or relocation. The abolition of the security of tenure policy also pushed more traditional flat tenants to switch to serviced apartments. The current rent for the serviced suites ranges from $5,900 to $21,000 per month, depending on the view, floor level and length of stay. Lease terms start from one month, and more than 60 per cent of tenants have been signing contracts for six months or more. Mr Chu said rental had increased modestly with an increment of 2 per cent to 3 per cent during the past three years, despite the strong market. He said the occupancy rate currently stood at about 90 per cent as February and March were traditionally the low season for serviced suites. 'However, the occupancy is picking up and it is expected to climb to 95 per cent or above after the Easter holidays.' In line with the positive property market prospect, Mr Chu said the general outlook for serviced apartments was optimistic, backed by strong demand and the limited new supply expected in the next few years. 'China's booming economy has prompted an increasing number of foreign companies to send executives to Hong Kong in order to explore and investigate business opportunities in the mainland,' he said. The trend for multi-national corporations adopting short-term business assignments, lump-sum housing compensation packages and cost-cutting exercises to save administration costs would continue to fuel demand for serviced suites, he said. Rapid economic growth in China had also induced more returning Chinese to come to Hong Kong. There was increased demand from airline crew as new airlines in Hong Kong recruited more overseas staff. The opening of Hong Kong Disneyland would create 18,000 new jobs which would also benefit the serviced apartment sector as people looked for accommodation with flexible lease terms.