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Moves on track to change the landscape for visitors

By Oswald Chan and Luis Liu | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-27 07:08

The government of Hong Kong has pledged to shift its focus to high-end tourism, which would boost the economy while mitigating the disruption low-end tourism can bring to local communities.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board, a statutory body established in 2001 to promote the city as a travel destination, will change its business promotion strategies this year.

Meanwhile, in a document submitted to the Legislative Council Panel on Economic Development in February, the Tourism Commission, a high-level body in the city's Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, said: "The development of Hong Kong tourism should not be focused on just achieving a rise in visitor numbers, but on pursuing balanced, healthy and long-term growth by developing diversified products and high-yield tourism."

In 2017-18, the HKTB will spend HK$398 million (348 billion yuan) on marketing, with HK$155 million of the total invested in source markets to drive overnight arrivals.

Key strategies will concentrate resources on attracting a larger number of high-yield overnight tourists (as opposed to day trippers), promoting MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) and cruise tourism, in addition to diversification via night tours, arts and cultural tours, and green tourism.

To consolidate the city's position as a hub for multidestination travel, the tourism board will continue to foster its partnership with destinations in the Pearl River Delta to promote multidestination itineraries and products featuring Hong Kong.

It will also leverage the Belt and Road Initiative and the completion of large-scale infrastructure projects, such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link to further drive multidestination tourism.

However, despite these proposed undertakings, the sector may have difficulty recovering from recent lows. The tourism board says total visitor arrivals could fall 2.2 percent to 55.38 million this year, with the number of mainland visitors declining 3.7 percent to 41.18 million during the same period. In addition, total expenditure associated to inbound tourism is predicted to fall by about 4.6 percent to nearly HK$287 billion.

"The landscape of the Asia-Pacific tourism market is undergoing rapid changes due to the rising volume of mainland travelers," said Song Haiyan, associate dean and chair professor at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Last year, mainlanders spent nearly $110 billion during trips to destinations around the world-about $1,000 per person - making them the biggest spenders among global outbound travelers.

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