HK to remain popular with international visitors despite unrest

December 09, 2019 13:27
Hong Kong will retain its crown as the most visited destination in the world this year despite the month-long social disturbances, according to a Euromonitor report. Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong will remain the most visited destination in the world this year despite the months-long social unrest and street protests, UK-based market research firm Euromonitor International said in its latest Top 100 City Destinations report.

The Asian metropolis has been the world’s most visited place for nine years in a row. Hong Kong is expected to draw 26.72 million visitors this year, with arrivals defined as international tourists visiting the city for at least 24 hours.

Still, the number represents a decline of 8.7 percent from 2018, which makes Hong Kong the only city in the top 10 that saw a drop.

By contrast, Thailand’s capital Bangkok, which is in the second place, saw its international tourist arrivals rise 6.9 percent this year. 

As the ongoing anti-government protests have seriously dented the confidence of mainland visitors towards Hong Kong, the city could well lose its crown next year.

Hong Kong serves as a gateway for China’s 1.4 billion population. Mainlanders come to the city to do grocery shopping, and enjoy better services such as healthcare, education, etc. Also, many foreign investors would use the city as a stepping stone in order to tap into mainland China market.

In addition to unique advantages such as high efficiency, independent jurisdiction and free information flow, Hong Kong remains the only international city within China that fully opens to the rest of the world.

In that sense, Hong Kong's status will not be replaced by any other mainland city anytime soon. That explains why Alibaba and a Chinese government entity have opted to come to Hong Kong for fund-raising even when the city is going through months-long political turmoil.

Still, Hong Kong might lose its luster if mainland rival cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen evolve into global cities in the future.

Hong Kong needs to keep its strengths while upgrading its offerings if it is to ensure that the visitors keep coming.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 5

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist