This article was written by Daniel Meesak and originally published in Jing Daily

Chinese millennials are the most coveted group in the tourism industry – they’re getting richer and yearn to travel more – but it can be difficult to know how to best market to these consumers. With millennials being more independently-minded and wanting experiences and culture as much as shopping experiences, strategies may need to be turned on their head to appeal to them.

 

Nowhere is the need for changing the brand image in Chinese consumers’ minds more important than in Hong Kong. While Hong Kong remains the undisputed leader in terms of Chinese tourist arrivals (Hong Kong is technically an outbound tourism destination), it has started to lose its lustre as Chinese travellers, and especially millennials, are seeking other destinations. While Hong Kong is different from mainland Chinese cities, to many, it’s mostly a tax-free shopping haven not far from home.


The University of Hong Kong’s Department of Architecture is proud to present for the first time in Hong Kong an exhibition on the city and its architecture. “Archigram Meets Central” is an exhibition showcasing imaginary visions for cities. Archigram’s Opus such as Walking City, Instant City, Oasis, Manzak…will confront the research projects and experimental investigations of some 400 students of the Department of Architecture, all concentrating on Central and the harbour front of Hong Kong. A first-ever dialogue on the city through architecture is encouraged. The Generation Z questions The Sixties and suggest an alternative Pop Culture. Leading to discussions and debates with participation of the greater public where Central Hong Kong will be the common platform and site for engagement in an experimental summer design school. Let us all discuss how architecture, urbanism, and landscape can facilitate and bring evolution and change to our environments. Saturday, 23 June 2018, 5 p.m. Opening Reception Sunday, 24 June – 8 July 2018, 12-6 p.m. Exhibition opens to public Sunday, 24 June 2018, 2:30-5:30 p.m. Re-imagine Central: Architectural workshop for family and kids Venue: Marketplace, PMQ Quota: 20 Collaborative parties: 綠腳丫Little Green Feet *RSVP https://www.hkexperiencing.net/event/p/14403 Monday, 25 June 2018, 4:30pm-7pm Discussion on Central and the Harborfront on Public space and the City Venue: HUB (S710-711), 7/F, Block A, PMQ Open to public Website: https://www.arch.hku.hk/event_/discussion-on-central-and-the-harborfront-on-public-space-and-the-city/ Tuesday, 26 June 2018, 2:30pm-7pm Discussion on Central Waterfront, its Landscape, and Urban potentials Venue: HUB (S710-711), 7/F, Block A, PMQ Open to public Website: https://www.arch.hku.hk/event_/discussion-on-central-waterfront-its-landscape-and-urban-potentials/ Saturday, 30 June 2018, 2-5 p.m. Archigram Symposium Venue: Wang Gungwu Lecture Hall, Graduate House, the University of Hong Kong Speakers: Peter Cook, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb, David Greene Introduction: Eunice Seng Discussion Moderation: Nasrine Seraji Open to public #PMQ #PMQHK #skyscrapers #Architecture #LittleGreenFeet #Arch

A post shared by PMQ 元創方 (@pmqhkdesign) on Jun 24, 2018 at 1:22am PDT

There are many reasons to visit Hong Kong beyond shopping and dim sum. Art exhibitions, museums, galleries and a vibrant, international atmosphere make the city a viable destination for Chinese travellers who are interested in culture.

Old Bailey opens this month at Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts

Once the city of endless high-end malls, Hong Kong enjoys many special experiences – shopping and otherwise. The old Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters was turned into PMQ – a complex full of studios, shops and office spaces for Hong Kong’s creative industry. Not much to offer a Chinese tour group, perhaps, yet it has more to offer to China’s millennial travellers.

 

One of the most interesting new developments is the Victoria Dockside, a mixed-use harbourfront development by tourist magnet Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon side.

New World Development, the developer of Victoria Dockside, has announced a US$2.6 billion, 3 million square feet art and design district on the promenade. The project was created by, among others, Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), which was also behind the transformation of New York’s Hudson Yards.

The developer and its partner K11 Group announced one of the main features of the development this week: a museum-retail complex called K11 MUSEA – described as “doubling as a new ultra high-end experiential retail, art, cultural and dining destination”.

“Designed with content-driven global millennials in mind, K11 MUSEA will greet visitors with its rotating world-class art collection. Its facade will feature one of the world’s largest living walls, boasting a total surface area of over 50,000 square feet of greenery inclusive of the interior and exterior. Meanwhile, an outdoor amphitheatre space and a large 25-foot-tall LED screen will be in place for a slew of cultural happenings,” the two companies explained in a joint press release.

David Thompson’s Aaharn brings his modern Thai cuisine to Hong Kong in September

If there’s any question about how serious both companies are about culture, the developer is rebranding itself as a “cultural enterprise,” and it appears to have to ambition to reshape Hong Kong’s image with it.

It’s all about millennials. “K11 MUSEA will be Hong Kong and Asia’s new cultural destination, where global millennials can come together and discover their muse,” the companies say.

Travel will remain a key lifestyle feature of Asian millennials, who are expected to see a 6 per cent growth in outbound tourists this year. Chinese millennials see travel and luxury as part of an indulgent lifestyle reflective of social status.”

Perhaps the biggest question is if the development is what millennials have in mind when thinking of special cultural experiences. It couldn’t be more manufactured – but does that matter if it’s manufactured right?

Where to eat at the Tai Kwun Centre in Hong Kong

Faced with growing competition from glitzy new malls in mainland China and a wealth of exciting destinations available a short flight from China, a doubling down on culture may just be what Hong Kong needs to stay relevant in a world beyond the Chinese tour group. Arts and culture look set to remain key areas where Hong Kong trumps mainland Chinese cities. While fancier and newer malls can always be constructed, cultural and artistic capital requires more than capital and labour.

 

Let’s see how things work out for fancy-new-mall meets arts and culture.

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