Date
17 January 2017
Andes Leung, co-founder of social enterprise RunOurCity, said foreign runners stay in the host city days after the marathon event. Photo: HKEJ
Andes Leung, co-founder of social enterprise RunOurCity, said foreign runners stay in the host city days after the marathon event. Photo: HKEJ

How marathon races can help HK draw visitors

Running is big business, but Hong Kong doesn’t seem to be fully tapping the market, especially in attracting visitors to local races.

One reason why Hong Kong isn’t getting as many overseas runners as we deserve is because big races like the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon appear too serious.

To many foreigners, marathon is not so much about competing and achieving their best personal record, as an experience to enjoy and cherish.

“Joining overseas races is a trip. Most people are looking for fun, the focus is not so much on the tournament itself,” Andes Leung, co-founder of social enterprise RunOurCity, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal Monthly.

Runners would typically arrive a day before the event, join the race on the second day and then stay behind for a few days more.

“It would be such a waste to leave right after the race,” Leung said, especially for those who came to the event from far-away places.

If we can attract more leisure runners, their potential spending on accommodation, food and other things could add up to a handsome revenue for Hong Kong.

Modeled on overseas practice, races organized by RunOurCity focus a lot more on the fun part, involving shows along the way and musical performances at the end of the race.

By designing the route to pass through different local areas, the marathon can also help reshape the image of Hong Kong, which is a lot more than just a finance center or food paradise.

Mountain racing, for instance, can let runners experience some of our city’s awe-inspiring country parks.

“We have great natural sceneries. These thing are already there, but they are too undersold,” Leung said.

“Most foreigners don’t even know about them. I once showed them some pictures of Sai Kung, and people thought they were taken in Greece or Scotland.”

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CG

EJ Insight writer

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