Hong Kong revamps its tourism plans

Published on : Wednesday, November 4, 2015

HKTBThe inbound tourism industry of Hong Kong is plagued with many problems, including inadequate regulation, the source of tourists being too concentrated, the lack of new tourist attractions, and the operation of unlicensed guesthouses remaining unchecked despite sustained law enforcement actions. Tourist Arrivals in Hong Kong decreased to 1760694 in September from 2274375 in August of 2015.



Zero-fare, low-fare or even negative-fare shopping tours from the Mainland have given rise to quite a number of problems.  In 2010, a female local tourist guide hurled abuses at her mainland tour group members on a tourist coach because she was dissatisfied that they had done little shopping, and a mainland tourist died of heart attack after quarrelling with his tourist guide over the issue of shopping.




Subsequent to those incidents, recently a mainland tourist was allegedly beaten to death after a quarrel when he was taken  for shopping. Although the council have announced that a Travel Industry Authority will be established, they have not provided any work schedule so far.



The authorities will have to consider some interesting points raised for improving tourism conditions in Hong Kong. Accessing the magnitude of the negative impacts on the tourism industry of Hong Kong caused by the recent incident in which a tourist died after being attacked, which had been reported and exaggerated on the Internet; of the authorities’ corresponding measures to alleviate those impacts and make remedies.




Tourist attractions and spots in Hong Kong highlighting a mix of Chinese and western cultures or arousing nostalgic sentiments are gradually disappearing, and the annual government subvention provided to the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) for its operation and promotion of tourism has been ever increasing (with the current financial year’s estimated expenditure standing at $747.9 million), whether the Government has considered reallocating part of the subvention in future for protecting and preserving tourist attractions, so as to enhance their attractiveness to tourists.



Considering a fresh proposal put forth in 2009 on the establishment of a dedicated policy bureau, i.e. the Tourism Bureau, to take charge of all tourism affairs, so as to consolidate the government departments and non-governmental organisations responsible for planning, regulating and promoting tourism as well as handling other tourism affairs, and on entrusting the Tourism Bureau with the responsibility of formulating and implementing tourism-related policies.



The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has issued positive messages through the influential media in the Mainland (including online and social media such as WeChat, Weibo, etc) to restore Mainland travellers’ confidence in Hong Kong. The recent incident will be reviewed in collaboration with the China National Tourism Administration and the TIC, continue to closely monitor the operation of Mainland inbound tour groups, and will study if there are any feasible measures which may be introduced to further strengthen regulation.




There will be more focus in promoting inbound tourism so the tourism sector may continue to contribute towards Hong Kong’s economic development.  The major duties of the HKTB include launching promotion activities in 20 visitor source markets with a view to achieving a diverse visitor portfolio, drawing overnight visitors and reinforcing Hong Kong’s international position and image as “Asia’s World City”; promoting Hong Kong’s unique and diverse tourism experience on all fronts by digital marketing, public relations activities and consumer fairs so as to enhance visitors’ desire to travel to Hong Kong; and organising and promoting mega events in Hong Kong to strengthen the city’s image as the events capital of Asia.  The Government will continue to support the promotion work carried out by the HKTB.There will be special efforts in protecting, conserving and revitalising historical and heritage sites and buildings through relevant and sustainable approaches.





Strengthening the promotion of the city’s offerings in cultural and creative tourism, the HKTB launches extensive promotion through various channels, including its website, mobile applications, social media platforms and visitor centres, for actively promoting to overseas visitors the four traditional festivals which are included in the third national list of intangible cultural heritage, namely Yu Lan Festival, Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade and Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance.  On the promotion of Hong Kong’s local culture, the HKTB has launched the “New Tour Product Development Scheme” (the Scheme) to encourage the travel trade to develop new tourism products by partly subsidising the marketing costs.  Included are new themed tours which showcase the local living culture, for instance, “Sham Shui Po Foodie Tour” which escorts visitors to sample the local culinary delights, and “Hand Made in Hong Kong” which presents the traditional craftsmanship of Hong Kong.  The HKTB will continue to run the Scheme, encouraging the trade to capitalise on their creativity and to optimise the use of tourism resources in different districts.



The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau is tasked with formulating strategies for tourism development, allocating resources to implement various tourism initiatives, as well as co-ordinating with different parties, including relevant Government departments, the TIC and the HKTB in pushing ahead the various work on tourism development.




An independent statutory body, the Travel Industry Authority (TIA), would be established to take over the licensing and regulatory functions of the Travel Agents Registry and TIC.  The targets of regulation will include travel agents, tour escorts and tourist guides.  The Government is pressing ahead with the drafting work for the new legislation for the establishment of the TIA and implementation of a new regulatory framework, with a view to introducing the bill to the Legislative Council as soon as possible.



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