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No more only shopping: Hong Kong has to diversify tourism offerings for long-term growth

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2018, 10:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2018, 11:11pm

After hitting a trough, the number of visitors to Hong Kong has increased in recent months. Last October, the city welcomed 5.28 million visitors, the strongest growth since March, according to the Tourism Board.

This year, more than 60 million tourists are expected to pour into the city, up by more than 3.5 per cent from 2017 and only the second time Hong Kong would host more than 60 million visitors, after 60.8 million in 2014.

And now, the financial secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po, has allocated an extra HK$396 million to the tourism industry, of which HK$226 million will go to the Tourism Board to implement a development blueprint for the sector.

However, statistics from several sources show that the majority of visitors are still mainlanders. who account for three quarters of all tourists in Hong Kong. I believe the city must strive to attract a more diverse mix of tourists.

Hence, the government should step up its campaign to develop more diverse tourist spots, instead of mainly for shopping.

Commerce chief Edward Yau Tang-wah has said the targets are high-spending and young ­tourists seeking a “distinctive” experience, and the government is keen to draw visitors to rural and cultural attractions, ­instead of just shopping malls.

To retain its status as a shopping paradise, Hong Kong has developed a lot of malls. However, with the popularity of online shopping, most tourists are now no longer interested in malls. Therefore, to only focus on getting tourists to shop would be an unsustainable plan for the long-term development of tourism.

It is very important to develop tourism around Hong Kong’s unique culture. However, tourists want to see something that’s quintessentially Hong Kong. Hence, events like the Cheung Chau bun festival, the Tai Hang fire dragon dance and cultural performances in the cutting-edge venues at the West Kowloon Cultural District should be promoted to attract more visitors.

More attention should also be given to promoting the natural beauty of Hong Kong, especially in rural areas like Sai Kung and the New Territories, and the Islands District. I am sure these are the things that tourists want to see and experience, rather than shop for things that are widely available anywhere in the world.

Simon Chung, Kwun Tong