Deprived of its former charm, Hong Kong needs to rethink tourism sector

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 July, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 July, 2015, 12:01am

I think there is a need for changes in the Hong Kong tourism sector because there has been a drop in tourist numbers from the mainland.

Some people blamed this on the protests held earlier this year against parallel traders. But I think that is not the only reason, and we have to look at the overall failures in tourism.

The industry is not dynamic enough, and visitors do not have enough choices. Hong Kong was once considered a dining and shopping paradise, and deservedly so. It had many experiences on offer. But now it seems to have lost its competitive edge. Why? The city is losing its distinctive charm.

The smaller traditional stores and restaurants run by families who care about quality have been forced to close at the hands of landlords, who get bigger rents from chain stores and other large companies. The rich get richer, and tourists are deprived of the charm that made Hong Kong famous.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's competitors are gaining a distinct advantage. South Korea works hard at promoting its traditional culture and tourist spots, and this makes it a popular holiday destination. Visitors here may feel there is nothing new. They've been to Ocean Park two or three times. People ask if there is anything new on The Peak that merits a return trip.

Hong Kong can't afford to be complacent; it needs to upgrade and keep up. There must be greater diversity. Areas with potential should be developed, including the rejuvenation of heritage sites with a mixture of architecture.

Also, eco-tourism has a great deal of potential that could attract a lot of overseas visitors if properly developed and promoted. Virtually wherever you are in Hong Kong, you can get to one of our magnificent hiking trails within 40 minutes.

The Hong Kong government's apparent reluctance to take the initiative hurts the economy. The tourism sector can overcome the difficulties, but it has to upgrade itself so that Hong Kong can once again be the Pearl of the Orient.

Chung Hoi-ki, Yau Yat Chuen