Business events, festivals enhance HK visitor numbers

A STRATEGY of promoting meetings, incentives and events is paying off with figures showing a “magnificent year” for tourism in Hong Kong, according to the city’s tourism chiefs.

Overnight arrivals in 2018 for MICE and event-related activities rose 2.1 per cent to 1.97 million, Hong Kong Tourism Board’s annual overview at the city’s main convention and exhibition centre heard.

The day-long event, attended by more than a throusand travel and hotel representatives – along with speakers from Google, JP Morgan, Alipay, Euromonitor and Visa – also heard of plans to promote “geopark tourism” with improvements to hiking trails and the island of Yim Tin Tsai, off the New Territories town of Sai Kung, singled out for nature-based tourism.

New venues and programmes to attract conference and business event groups tying in with the bridge linking Hong Kong to Zhuhai and Macau, and the high-speed rail link will also be rolled out along with increased support for exhibition organisers, and the targeting of medium-sized corporate meetings.

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Anthony Lau, executive director of HKTB, said total arrivals during the year rose to 65.1 million, indicating a strong recovery from previous year that saw a global economic crisis and prolonged protests centred on “social incidents and policy changes”, referring to street occupations in 2014.

For the eighth consecutive year, analysts at Euromonitor ranked Hong Kong as the “most visited city in the world based on overnight arrivals”.  

Lau said the tourism board also has its sights set on establishing Hong Kong as “Asia’s events capital” with sports and cultural festivals featuring dragon-boat competitions, international tennis, marathons and the Food and Wine festival among others.

Other plans and targets for the months ahead include:

  • Water-taxi service from Victoria Harbour, with tender notices already issued;
  • Increased connectivity around the Greater Bay Area with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the new high-speed rail link to Guangzhou.
  • Improvements to hiking trails and artwork to help illustrate a walking trail dedicated to Dr Sun Yat Sen, the founding father of republican China;
  • Increased GDP in the Greater Bay Area to match that of Tokyo and New York;
  • Peak Tram improvements;
  • Third runway at Hong Kong International Airport.

Districts of the city being earmarked in 2019 as “MICE hubs’ are the town of Tsuen Wan, the south of Hong Kong island where Ocean Park is located, and Lantau island in addition to Central and Tsim Sha Tsui.

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