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Hong Kong is the top shopping destinations in the Asia Pacific region in an overall sense, but the sky-high hotel prices and transportation cost have also made it one of the most unaffordable places to tour around, a Globe Shopper Index released by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Global Blue said on Friday.
The city ranked No 1 among the 25 Asian cities assessed by the study, with an overall score of 68.5 out of 100, followed by Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, which were rated 65.1 and 63.1, respectively. Another Chinese city, Beijing, and Hong Kong's major competitor, Singapore, took the fourth and fifth places, respectively.
Each candidate city was evaluated on five categories which covered shops, affordability, convenience, hotels & transport as well as culture & climate.
Hong Kong topped the index for "its variety of goods and shops". The long sales seasons and the wide diversity of brands available in the city, the renowned cuisines and cultural attractions, as well as the safety social environment made it most appealing to the shopping fans in Asia.
Although the city's shopping environment leads the pack in most of aspects in the region, its sky-high accommodation prices have made it difficult for many tourists to find a place to stay, the report said.
"Hong Kong is a relatively expensive city while other aspects performed rather well," said Sumana Rajarethnam, a senior analyst with EIU. Although the government is dedicated to providing a convenient shopping environment, its ability to control the accommodation and transport costs in the city is nevertheless limited, he added.
The report indicated that an average 4-star hotel room costs around $200 per night, which is the second worst on the index, and a 2-star hostel in the city will also cost $70. Hong Kong's relatively expensive transport costs as well as higher pricing on some luxury goods, have nevertheless pulled down its scores on the index, according to the report.
"Hong Kong, therefore, has much to offer (to) almost every kind of shopper, especially if it is possible to arrange accommodation that does not cost so much as to negate the benefits of bargain goods," it said.
Data by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) showed overnight tourists to the city have spent more than HK$50.4 billion on shopping sprees during their stays in the first half of the year.
The mainland tourists, who accounted for about two thirds of total tourist arrivals in Hong Kong, had the strongest purchasing powers among all visitors. However, Daisy Lui, deputy executive director of the HKTB, said the biggest concern within the city's tourism industry is how to diversify the tourist arrivals sources to Hong Kong.
"Over 70 percent of the promotion activities by Hong Kong were hosted in countries and economies other than the mainland as we are dedicated to attracting diversified sources of tourists other than relying only on just a single channel," Lui told China Daily.
Local retailers are raising the red flag these days after mainland visitors spent less in the city. The Chairman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association Caroline Mak even predicted that the city may record negative growth in the fourth quarter as the strong inbound mainland tourists to the city will not help spending due to the slowdown of the mainland economy.