Hong Kong Sevens

Hong Kong reaps HK$380 million bonanza thanks to overseas visitors at Rugby Sevens

More than half the crowd last year were from overseas and even more could be in the city for this weekend’s famous event

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 7:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2018, 10:52pm

The Hong Kong Sevens is injecting at least HK$380 million into the city’s economy thanks to overseas visitors, figures from last year’s event reveal.

Market research from the 2017 Sevens showed more than half the crowd were overseas visitors and they stayed in Hong Kong for up to eight days, Hong Kong Rugby Union chief executive Robbie McRobbie said on Tuesday.

And even more visitors could be among the 40,000-strong crowd each day this weekend (April 6-8) as the Cathay Pacific/HSBC-sponsored showpiece is sandwiched between Easter and Cheng Ming Festival when many Hongkongers tend to travel abroad.

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“Of the 120,000 spectators who attended over the course of the weekend last year, over half came from overseas,” McRobbie said.

“The interesting thing is we don’t sell over half of our tickets to overseas – they may have received them through friends and family of people who live or play rugby in Hong Kong.

“On average, [overseas attendees] spent eight days in Hong Kong and spent about HK$19,000 on local businesses during their stay,” he said.

That is nearly HK$2,400 a day on hotels, food and beverages, entertainment and shopping. The figure does not take into account the Sevens tickets, nor flights in and out of the city.

Assuming half of the ticket-holders came from overseas – and they bought a three-day pass – that is already more than HK$380 million of cash circulating throughout the city.

“You get an idea of the economic impact it has on the city and how it affects the tourism industry,” said McRobbie. “This year, we’re looking to really pin down data on the economic impact the Sevens has on Hong Kong.

“The World Sevens Series is 10 tournaments long and, by and large, the rugby is very similar. Why people choose to come to Hong Kong rather than the Vancouver Sevens is not just the rugby itself; it’s about the experience.”

Tickets sold out for the 13th year in a row despite initial fears over the event’s proximity to major public holidays.

“We had a few concerns over the Easter break [March 30 to April 1] and Cheng Ming Festival [also known as Tomb Sweeping Festival, April 2],” said McRobbie after the unveiling of an enormous “floating” rugby ball in Victoria Harbour. “But it has not been as negative as we thought it would be at one point.

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“In terms of demand, what we’ve seen is certain areas domestically have dropped – for example more schoolteachers are away on holiday – but it has equalled out to provide opportunities for more overseas visitors.”

Hong Kong Tourism Board chairman Peter Lam Nin-ngok said of the Sevens 25-metre long inflatable rugby ball on the harbour: “What better way to capture our city’s spirit of fun than a giant floating rugby ball. It’s the first of its kind in Hong Kong and will provide a visual treat for visitors coming to the city.”