The consumption of overnight visitors in Hong Kong fell 1.8 percent last year compared to the average level in 2013, marking the first annual decline in ten years, according to official data.
Visitors who spent at least one night in the city last year are said to have notched consumption of HK$7,975 per person on average. The figure represents the first drop in per-capita spending by such visitors since 2004, Ming Pao Daily reported, citing the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB).
Visitors spent 3.3 nights on average in Hong Kong last year, down from 3.4 nights in 2013, while total tourists who stayed overnight were up 8.2 percent in number at 27.77 million, the report said.
Anthony Lau, executive director of HKTB, said the lower consumption per capita may have stemmed from the central government’s anti-graft and austerity campaign, and reduced expenditure by government departments as well as state-owned enterprises.
Amid the campaign, fewer mainland visitors bought luxury goods such as watches. A stronger dollar also dampened tourists’ consumption, Lau said.
Overall visitor number to Hong Kong was up 12 percent at 60.83 million last year. Of that, mainland visitors accounted for 47.25 million, up 16 percent from the previous year. Total consumption of tourists, including day-trippers, reached HK$358.2 billion, up 8.7 percent.
HKTB chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok expects authorities to expand the individual visit scheme to more mainland cities, which will help pull in more visitors from across the border.
Other measures to attract more short-haul visitors, from places such as South Korea, can also help Hong Kong’s tourism sector, he said.
He expects the retail industry, which has faced some pressure last year, to recover sharply in 2015.
Lau said the Hong Kong government plans to spend HK$167 million on tourism promotion. Three-fourths of the amount will go toward luring visitors from markets other than mainland China, he said, outlining a focus on places such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
Visitors staying overnight in Hong Kong could rise 3.3 percent in number to 28.68 million this year, while their consumption per capita is expected to expand 1.1 percent to HK$8,062, Lau added.
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