27 October 2016
Hong Kong has failed to come up with major new tourist attractions for years, unlike Singapore. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong has failed to come up with major new tourist attractions for years, unlike Singapore. Photo: HKEJ

How we can revitalize the tourism sector

Recently a hotel in North Point was shut down to make way for redevelopment into an office tower. Although it may have just another business decision of the owner, Henderson Land, to generate higher returns, it reflects an undeniable fact: the local tourism industry is facing a tough time.

In the first half of 2015 Hong Kong recorded a 3.8 percent decline in the number of overnight visitors. It is expected that the slide may continue for some time, resulting in further job cuts in the industry.

Currently the tourism sector is estimated to provide 270,000 jobs. So if there is a 5 percent job reduction in the industry, it will mean that around 13,000 people will lose their jobs.

Given the situation, it is vital that measures are taken to boost the competitiveness of the tourism industry and improve its prospects.

Recent government surveys on tourism were often inconclusive because most of them failed to take into account the opinions of the “main characters”—the tourists and citizens.

For example, what do tourists want us to do in order to make Hong Kong more attractive? As far as the general public is concerned, the question is: how should the government revitalize the tourism industry without disrupting people’s daily way of life?

Many in the tourism sector have suggested that Hong Kong develop more tourist attractions, draw more business travelers and foster the development of cruise tours. However, it appears that these suggestions have not been followed up by the administration.

Of the ten most-visited tourist attractions in Hong Kong, eight have been around since 2006. Only a handful of new attractions have been opened in recent years.

In comparison, since 2008 there have been new tourist attractions opening almost every year in Singapore. The city’s tourist number has surged, reaching 15.1 million in 2014.

Elsewhere, although South Korea hasn’t opened any new major attractions in recent years, its number of foreign visitors almost doubled and reached 14.1 million over the same period, thanks to the highly popular South Korean TV dramas and movies that have taken the world by storm.

Filming locations of popular TV series have become some of the most-visited tourist spots in the country.

Now, coming back to Hong Kong, the city has been the location for some scenes in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Batman: The Dark Knight” and “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction”.

Hong Kong is also one of the food capitals of the world.

Against this backdrop, the government should utilize the advantages and promote Hong Kong as an “Eatertainment” destination.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 1.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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