You say jetso, I say so-so

April 17, 2015 17:55
Tourists at the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. The Hong Kong Tourism Board is preparing to launch a five-week campaign to attract more visitors and boost local retail spending. Photo: Xinhua

In many ways, the first phase of the "Happy at Hong Kong Super Jetso" has failed to live up to its name, and will probably do little to cheer up this city.

This is simply because the citywide discount program being offered by more than 10,000 retail outlets is far from "jetso" (special offers). Instead, it is "so so", because many of them are already existing offers.

Take for example, the 40 percent admission ticket discount that Ocean Park is offering for online purchases through Yahoo. The scheme was offered at least twice last year; it was a usual gimmick the park had employed in the off-season.

Similarly the Sasa offer, which gives tourists a HK$30 coupon for every HK$100 purchase -- where the coupon can be used in the next order over HK$200 -- is not new.

If Sasa chairman Kwok Siu-ming, who is also the chairman of the Quality Tourism Services Association, is able to come up with only so much, what can we expect from the other 9,999 retailers?

That is why ordinary Hong Kong people don't feel too excited about any of the offers – be it 'buy two, get one free' buffet at LIS Cafe, or 'buy one, get one in free' for the Sky 100 Observation Deck.

Come on – gives us something to scream, or at least talk about.

The five-week campaign to attract tourists and boost consumer spending, which will kick off on April 27, aims to make Hong Kong happy because, as the Tourism Board puts it, "you have to make Hong Kong people happy before they are happy to greet other tourists."

And 82 percent of these tourists, mind you, are from China.

By comparison, the second phase of the "Happy at Hong Kong Super Jetso" will focus on tourists arriving from mid-June to late August. Top prizes include first class Cathay Pacific tickets and free stay in Peninsula – to name a few – and are reserved for tourists only.

The first campaign comes after the introduction of "One Week one Entry" policy this week for Shenzhen residents following the recent protests against parallel traders.

To mitigate an anti-mainlander sentiment and boost local spending, the city-wide campaign aims to stimulate domestic consumption with a target of 20 to 30 percent sales increase.

But based on what we have seen so far, the [email protected] campaign appears to be a half-hearted effort led by government organizations which want to push forward a timely plan but have displayed a lack of understanding on what can really cheer up local citizens.

That reminds us of the Harbour Fest in 2003, when the government organized a series of live shows and performances by various artistes but failed to get enough bang for its buck.

This time, it is not an easy task either. Observers will watch closely how the government puts to use the rest of the additional HK$80 million budget allocated to the Tourism Board.

If the money is spent on initiatives as ineffective as the first campaign of [email protected], it won't do much good for the local tourism and retail sectors. 

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EJ Insight writer