There’s little time for sightseeing; tourists are herded into shops where they are forced to spend; a mainland tourist was beaten to death by a gang of four while trying to mediate a dispute.
Ultra-cheap tours to Hong Kong has received enough bad press.
The China National Tourism Administration has warned people against joining such cut-price package tours, and some worry the warning, along with the negative publicity, will further discourage mainland tourists from coming here.
But the situation also provides a great opportunity for industry players to upgrade their offerings and target high-end mainland travelers.
Morning Star Travel Service Ltd. is one tour operator exploring this segment of the market.
“Competing with cheaper offers for the mass market is not the kind of business we want,” CEO Peter Sung told JobMarket.
“We definitely have no interest in offering a four- to five-day tour for HK$980,” he said. “We will probably price the tour at HK$4,000-5,000, but tourists get to stay in top hotels and enjoy nice food.”
Morning Star once lost its direction amid intense competition and sank into heavy losses.
Sung took the helm in 2010 and led the company back to profitability by carving out a niche in the premium tour market.
The company has developed its expertise by organizing tours to South Korea, Japan, Australia, Egypt and Turkey, among other destinations.
It is now looking to bring that experience to serving mainland customers.
It’s currently the top South Korean tour organizer in Hong Kong. The number of its customers recorded an 8 percent gain even though tours were suspended for two months due to the outbreak of MERS.
Mini tailored tour is another product Sung intends to bring to the China market.
“There are places difficult for individual travelers to go by themselves. If it is a family tour, and you may not want to spend your holiday with a bunch of strangers, so this kind of mini tour will fit you best,” Sung said.
Morning Star won’t be spending large sums on advertising and promotion.
Instead, it has partnered with a major Chinese real estate developer. The plan is to tap the latter’s property network, such as installing information counters in clubhouses or targeting residents as potential customers and Morning Star members.
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