Bad press for Disney and delays to cable car may put year's target out of reach Around 2.2 million people visited Hong Kong last month, government sources said - but the pace of arrivals needs to pick up further if the Tourism Board's target for the year is to be reached. The total represents an increase of about 6 per cent year on year, and compares with an 8.34 per cent increase in June. The Airport Authority reported a record 4.1 million passengers passing through the airport in July, 8.6 per cent up on July last year. Government sources said negative publicity surrounding Hong Kong Disneyland, the delay in opening the highly anticipated Lantau cable car, and exorbitant hotel room prices - up an average of 16 per cent this year - had hit visitor arrivals. Travellers were also delayed by Guangdong's upgrade in June to its system that processes applications for individual visits to the city. The Ngong Ping 360 cable car attraction was scheduled to open in June but was delayed by technical problems. July's 2.2 million arrivals brings the seven-month visitor total to about 14.4 million, just over half the Tourism Board's projection of 27 million for this year. This number excludes Hong Kong residents returning from overseas travel. Whether the full-year target can be achieved will depend largely on the peak months of September and October; and in December, when Hong Kong hosts the ITU Telecom World event. 'The Hong Kong Tourism Board has readjusted its promotion strategy and allocated more resources to short-haul markets, particularly those with high growth potential in the second half of the year, in order to generate more arrivals in the coming months,' a board spokesman said. Inbound Tour Operators Association chairman Charles Ng Kwong-wai said preliminary arrivals data this month indicated 'nothing special'. Mr Ng said July's result was reasonable given that growth had been quite strong in the past two years. 'I think about 1.3 million or 1.4 million of the visitors were from the mainland and roughly 300,000 of them joined tours, unchanged from last year,' Mr Ng said. Last year, 53.69 per cent of total visitor arrivals, or just over 12.54 million, were from the mainland, according to tourism board figures. Mr Ng is hopeful the cable car can be ready in time for the National Day holiday in October. He said the delay in opening had not hurt business so far. The managing director of Holiday World Tours, Paul Leung Yiu-lam, who is also president of the Hong Kong Inbound Travel Association, disagreed. 'I haven't seen any drop in business this summer, but the delay in launching the Ngong Ping 360 attraction is having an impact on business,' he said. The addition of the cable car ride to Disneyland would have enabled tour operators to market both attractions as a package in time for this summer, Mr Leung said. He said that, as neither the theme park nor the cable car ride were considered a full-day experience, packages could have been structured around them. 'Hong Kong Disneyland was originally positioned as a whole-day experience, but many tourists now go there after lunch,' he said. Mr Leung agreed business growth this summer was flat compared to a year ago. On Friday, 24 inbound tour operators, accounting for over 70 per cent of the market, began a 10-day boycott of mainland shopping tours from Shanghai. An average of 500 Shanghai tourists visit Hong Kong on these shopping tours every day, and Mr Ng said the tour operators were protesting against the practice of forcing these visitors to shop as a way of subsidising such low-priced tours.