The Legislative Council has urged the Hong Kong government to develop new scenic spots to attract visitors, the numbers of whom are growing at a dwindling rate, Sing Tao Daily reported Thursday.
A study released by Legco said the number of visitors to the city edged up 2.8 percent in the first half, the lowest increase since the mainland launched a visa in 2009 allowing Shenzhen residents to make multiple visits to Hong Kong.
Each visitor who stayed overnight in Hong Kong spent an average of HK$7,960 (US$1,027). The amount declined for the first time in 11 years.
The occupancy rate of hotels fell to 85 percent in the first half from 89 percent last year.
Hotel room rates per night dropped 9 percent to HK$1,335 on average, the study said.
After Hong Kong Disneyland was opened in 2005, the city failed to create many new attractions, which partly contributed to the decline in visitors, it said.
Only eight tourist attractions have been developed since 2006, such as Hong Kong Geopark, Noah’s Ark in Ma Wan, Sky100 (an observation deck on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre), and Ngong Ping 360 (a Lantau Island development including a cultural village and cable car).
However, they have proven to be less attractive to tourists, the study said.
By contrast, Singapore and South Korea, two of Hong Kong’s main rivals in tourism, have been actively developing new attractions.
The number of visitors to Singapore jumped 50 percent in the past eight years, and the number to South Korea doubled, the study said.
Although the number of business and trade exhibition visitors to Hong Kong grew for the past four years, the government has not taken measures to boost their numbers, unlike Singapore, Beijing and Seoul, it said.
In Singapore, for example, the government provides subsidies of up to 70 percent to organizers of business events and has expanded exhibition venues around the city.
Lawmaker Yiu Si-wing, representing the tourism functional constituency, said the government lacks a long-term development plan for tourism, having focused only on shopping as a selling point.
Yiu said he hopes new attractions such as a recreational precinct in Kai Tak, the West Kowloon Cultural District and new developments on Lantau Island will attract more visitors, but they will only help in the long term, he said.
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