JoannaWong

journalist – writer – traveler

2015 ‘Worst Year’ in Decade, Tarnishing Golden Week

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The total number of tourists have decreased 6.6 per cent from around 6 million to around 5.6 million in Aug this year compared to the same period last year.

The total number of tourists have decreased 6.6 per cent from around 6 million to around 5.6 million in Aug this year compared to the same period last year.

4 October 2015

Hong Kong is facing the worst year in a decade due to a drop of mainland Chinese tourists, according to a tourism constituency legislator.

The reducing amount of mainland Chinese tourists visiting Hong Kong during their 7-day National Day holiday signals the start of an “ice-age” for the tourism and hospitality sector.

“Even when there were natural disasters and man-made misfortune, Hong Kong had always maintained a growth,” said Yiu Si-wing, tourism constituency lawmaker. “But not this year.”

According to Hong Kong Tourism Board, compared to August 2014, the number of mainland visitors has decreased 7.1 per cent from about 4.9 million to about 4.5 million. Overall hotel room occupancy has also decreased 3 per cent to 90 per cent in August this year compared to August 2014.

“This is not the worst Golden Week in the recent ten years, it is just the worst year.” Mr Yiu said, adding that the anti-parallel trading protests organised by localists targeting mainlanders are to blame.

“Hong Kong’s ‘shopping paradise’ and ‘city of hospitality’ slogans no longer match how Chinese, or even Southeast Asian tourists, perceive us,” he said.

Lai Mei Hui, a tourist from Jiangxi, said Hong Kong is becoming more unwelcoming to mainland tourists.

“After watching the news about Hong Kong, some [Chinese] people who originally wanted to visit are turned off,” she said. “They choose Thailand instead.”

As many countries, including the US, have lifted visa restrictions for mainland tourists, making Hong Kong less attractive as a destination, explained Mr Yiu.

On the contrary, Daisy Leung, director of sales and marketing of Holiday Inn Golden Mile, said the decrease was not so much political, but it was mostly due to the depreciation of RMB and a weak US Dollar leading to the decrease in long-haul tourists.

“When the RMB was appreciating, it was a bargain for them to come and enjoy a 20 per cent off everything,” she said.

The hotel had an average occupancy of 85 per cent during the 2014 Golden Week due to effect of Occupy Central. But the franchise has recovered this year to 92 per cent on Oct 1, 2015 and predictably full during the rest of the week.

She thinks it is possible to strategically divert the markets, and they have spent lots of resources and cash, for instance offering free breakfast buffet coupons for kids to attract Southeast Asian family tourists.

The August devaluation of RMB, which caused nationwide panic in China, is still unable to save this year’s Golden Week unless the drop reaches ten per cent or more, said Mr Yiu.

He also added that China’s slowing economy contributed to the decreased influx of Chinese tourists to Hong Kong and the money they spend. Yet Hong Kong has little choice but to rely on mainland tourists.

“It was not like we did not want to put the eggs in different baskets, but objective situation led Hong Kong towards a gradual reliance of the Chinese market.” he said.

Text: Joanna Wong
Reporting: Crystal Tse
Photos: Jackson Ho

https://hkbujournalism.wordpress.com/category/business/

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