Hong Kong Needs More Spending Options For Tourists

March 19, 2013 / By  

We all understand how important the tourism market is to Hong Kong’s economy, especially on the retail market. While the full year figure for 2012 has yet to be released, retail spending from tourists accounted for about one-third of total retail sales in 1H12. In 2013, we are expecting some 52 million visitors to Hong Kong; about 7 times Hong Kong’s population. Obviously, we have the quantity achieved, however, are there factors other than quantity we should look for?

According to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in early March, Hong Kong ranked 15th in the world, in terms of travel and tourism industry competitiveness, while Singapore was ranked 10th and #1 in the Asia Pacific Region.

A closer look at the visitor arrivals and tourism receipt figures shows that in 2011, Hong Kong actually attracted more than three times the number of visitors than Singapore. Tourism receipts per visitor, however, was some 40% less than that of Singapore.

On average, visitors in Hong Kong spent much more in shopping yet substantially less in all other spending categories. Singapore’s experience indicates that there are opportunities for Hong Kong to attract more high-spending tourists by giving them more spending options. I am sure our government is well aware of the importance of these metrics and of remaining competitive regionally and globally. Plans to add more tourist attractions and amenities in the city would seem to support this view. The government, for example, is already adding a themed area in Disneyland, increasing hotel room supply and planning for the development of Kai Tak Fantasy, a 2.47 million sq ft commercial, hotel and entertainment development located within the 5 hectare tourism node at the tip of the former Kai Tak Airport runway. While many of these are mid-to-long term developments, I hope that the government can speed up the development of some of these projects since the commissioning of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is now less than three months away.

However, the Kai Tak development site is relatively barren and with limited auxiliary facilities at current time. As such, the new cruise terminal and its associated retail provision will play an important role in shaping Hong Kong’s image to potentially high-spending cruise visitors. I understand that the marketing of the retail space in the new cruise terminal space will soon officially begin. Upon opening, I hope it will create a “wow” effect, and serve as a good step forward for Hong Kong to strengthen its tourism industry.

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