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Hong Kong scrambles for ways to revive its tourist market

With the city in danger of being overtaken by Macao when it comes to visitor numbers, researchers are coming up with ways to bring tourists back.

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PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

The Our Hong Kong Foundation – a top think tank established by former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa – has unveiled 14 measures that it says will give a boost to Hong Kong’s ailing tourism and retail sector, the South China Morning Post reports

Ryan Ip, the foundation’s vice-president, described Hong Kong tourism’s recovery as “unsatisfactory” and told the Post that “the industry is in the grip of several challenges.” 

Ip mentioned travel hurdles, the high cost of accommodation and the “city’s lack of novelty” as reasons for the sluggish market. 

He also highlighted “disorganised events” as a tourism turnoff. The comment comes two weeks after soccer icon Lionel Messi failed to take to the pitch in a highly anticipated match between his team Inter Miami and a Hong Kong invitational side. The fiasco caused fury among fans, who had travelled from as far as Australia and South Korea to watch him play. 

[See more: Macao narrows the tourism gap with Hong Kong over Chinese New Year]

Among the foundation’s suggestions for reviving tourism are relaxed entry arrangements for mainland Chinese visitors, lower air fares, the creation of a one-stop app for visitors, making better use of celebrity endorsements, and a branding campaign for the city’s iconic Victoria Harbour, which it says could be used as the backdrop for more events.

Hong Kong welcomed 34 million visitors last year, with 17 million spending at least one night in the city – a dramatic decrease from the 65 million it welcomed in pre-pandemic 2018, when 29 million stayed at least one night.

The Our Hong Kong Foundation’s proposals come as Macao catches up fast in terms of visitor numbers.  According to one projection, some 36 million people will visit Macao in 2024, exceeding Hong Kong’s 2023 total.

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