Ngong Ping 360 Ltd., which operates the Ngong Ping Cable Car and the popular tourist village near the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, said on Tuesday that its facilities hosted a total of 1.83 million visitors in 2018, marking a jump of 75.3 percent compared to the number in the previous year.
In terms of daily average, the number of visitors was at around 5,300, which was 5.9 percent more than that seen in 2017 and representing a 10-year high, company data shows.
Among the visitors last year, 58 percent were from the United States, Europe and Asia, 27 percent from mainland China and Macau, and 15 percent were Hong Kong locals, according to Andy Lau Wai-ming, acting managing director of Ngong Ping 360.
Thailand and the Philippines accounted for the biggest growth in visitor numbers, as arrivals from those countries were up 16 percent and 11 percent, respectively, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Lau noted that the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in October last year helped the daily average number of visitors in the seven days from Feb. 5, the first day of this year’s Lunar New Year holidays, rise by 12.1 compared to the same period in 2018, with that of mainland visitors alone up 30 percent.
The official admitted that part of the reason for the big difference in visitor numbers to Ngong Ping 360 between 2018 and 2017 was the fewer operating days for the cable car in 2017, when the service was suspended for five months due to maintenance and improvement work.
As for expectation for this year’s visitor volume, Lau said he is prudently optimistic, adding that the company currently has no plan to raise ticket prices.
From April 1, Ngong Ping 360 will extend its real name reservation system that applies to Hong Kong residents only to cover Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, with a daily quota of at least 500 real-name express tickets, on a first-come-first-served basis, to be offered to locals.
It also has designated March and June each year ‘thankful months’ for Hongkongers, who can enjoy exclusive concessions during the two months.
Apart from their birthdays, as per the new measure, Hong Kong identity card holders who have two of the three digits — 3, 6 and 0 — in their ID numbers are entitled to take a round-trip ride on a standard cabin cable car free of charge from March 27 to April 10, as long as they present the ID cards at the ticket office. Also, they can bring with them up to three companions, who can buy the ticket at a 20 percent discount.
As the cable car closes for scheduled maintenance between March 6 and 26, eligible Hongkongers can enjoy a free 360 Lantau and Sea Guided Tour. But due to its popularity, concession quota on March 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24 for the free guided tour has been full, prompting the company to extend the concession for the guided tour to April 10, with the concession in June unchanged.
Another offer is that those having all three of the three digits will be offered a HK$20 coupon for spending in the souvenir shops.
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