Hong Kong is spending HK$50 million on Hong Kong Sevens in a bid to boost local tourism amid poor economic conditions, the Sky Post reports.
Tram pubs and carnivals at Lan Kwai Fong in Central and Lee Tung Avenue in Wan Chai are among the new initiatives launched by the Tourism Board to promote the premier tournament on the World Rugby Series, which will be staged at the Hong Kong Stadium from Friday through Sunday.
Official figures show that the number of overnight arrivals in March 2013, the month the Hong Kong Sevens was usually held, jumped 5.4 percent from a year earlier, but plunged 1.6 percent in the same month in 2015.
With the number of arrivals falling for two consecutive months in January and February, the government has decided to fork out HK$50 million to promote Hong Kong as the hub of mega events.
Part of the money will be used to turn three trams into mobile pubs during the Hong Kong Sevens, allowing tourists aged 18 or above who are staying in Hong Kong for less than 90 days to hop on one of those trams travelling between Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay to enjoy two complimentary glasses of beer or other beverages each.
A first-ever New Zealand-themed rugby carnival has also been set up on Lee Tung Avenue, where visitors will be handed free beers, New Zealand cheese and ice cream, as well as local snacks such as egg waffle.
Fair organizers estimate that per-person spending will be around HK$80 at daytime while shop revenues and customer flows will rise 20 percent during the event.
The Lan Kwai Fong Association said the rugby carnival in Central, which opened on Tuesday, is expected to boost sales for member shops.
It said the “Rugby Sevens month” is usually the highest grossing month of the year.
Hotel rooms are fetching higher prices with a room-night at the four-star Hotel Pennington by Rhombus nearby the Hong Kong Stadium surging from the usual weekend price of HK$1,400 to HK$4,000, while the occupancy rate has already reached 90 percent.
On Kowloon side, a room-night at the five-star Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel has also gone up from HK$2,000 to HK$3,250.
Legislator Yiu Si-wing, who represents the tourism functional constituency, said the Hong Kong Sevens is a highly renowned international sporting event and rugby fans would not skip the city for Singapore, which is staging the next event of the rugby world series after Hong Kong.
However, Yiu has warned that Hong Kong must not be complacent as other countries are eyeing to cash in on the popular sports tournament series.
James Lu, executive director of the Hong Kong Hotels Association, said hotel room sales have plunged more than 10 percent in the first three months of the year, despite the fact that prices were 20 percent cheaper than a year ago.
Lu said Hong Kong Sevens could boost sales for the industry in the short term.
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