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Hong Kong: Further strong November performance puts 16 million arrivals target in sight

Visitor arrivals in Hong Kong in November 2002 totalled 1,570,192, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) said last Monday…

Visitor arrivals in Hong Kong in November 2002 totalled 1,570,192, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) said last Monday (30 December). This falls only just short of the record 1.58 million visitors welcomed the previous month, and represents a 37.5% increase compared with the November 2001 figure.

Arrivals from Mainland China went one better, outperforming the October figures to set a further new record of 697,841, a 71.8% year-on-year increase.

This achievement comes despite the fact that October figures were boosted by the Golden Week national holiday. November, however, is a peak month for conventions and trade fairs, so Hong Kong proved a popular draw for Mainland business travellers, as well as attracting more leisure visitors.

In fact, all long-haul and short-haul markets showed substantial growth in November, led by North Asia (174,488 arrivals, +31.7%), South & Southeast Asia (172,031, +23.5%) and The Americas (129,646, +25.2%). Arrivals from Europe, Africa & the Middle East grew 20.0% to 125,128 and those from Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific by 19.4% to 35,539, while Taiwan was the only market not to reach double-digit growth, with a 5.7% increase to 195,465.

Individually, there were especially encouraging performance from Japan, which showed 36.0% growth in arrivals to 131,023; the United States, which achieved 27.0% growth to 95,803; and Malaysia, with 41.9% growth to 34,730.

For the first 11 months of 2002 to date, total arrivals have increased by 19.9% to 14,897,908, with all markets, including Taiwan, now showing positive growth. Arrivals from the Mainland alone have passed the six million mark, growing 52.1% to 6,071,225.

HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong said that early results from December indicated that the Board’s upgraded 2002 forecast of 15.35 million had already been passed. If we can maintain this level of growth for the remainder of December, we are certainly looking at a final figure for the year in excess of 16 million arrivals.

This will be a tremendous achievement, especially when you consider the difficult economic conditions that have persisted in many of our key markets during 2002 and other deterrent factors like the Bali bombing,
Ms Chong said. I am optimistic that we will reach this landmark, because the response to our Hong Kong WinterFest programme has been very encouraging, especially from the Mainland, Taiwan and Southeast Asian markets.

Some 180,000 visitors from these markets have come on specially-organised WinterFest packages alone, quite apart from those on other tour groups and the many individual travellers who want to enjoy the unique festive experience of Christmas in Hong Kong,
Ms Chong added. We are very pleased with the feedback we’ve received so far.

Same-Day Visitors

Another encouraging trend is that during November, there was a slight increase in the percentage of visitors staying for one night or longer, which grew to 65.0% from 64.3% in the same month last year. The remaining 35.0% continued to other destinations on the same day. (These figures only include travellers who passed through Hong Kong Immigration, not those who were solely transit passengers.)

Taiwan visitors remain the least likely to stay overnight, as a significant proportion are business people who continue by land or sea to other destinations in the Pearl River Delta; only 21.0% stayed overnight in November. On the other hand, 81.3% of visitors from The Americas, 79.3% of those from Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific and 76.8% of those from South & Southeast Asia stayed for at least one night, as did 69.2% of all visitors from the Mainland.

For the first 11 months of the year to date, 64.3% of all visitors have stayed for one night or longer, a marginal decrease from the 64.4% for the same period in 2001.

Hotel Occupancy

Hong Kong’s hotel industry enjoyed its best month of the year so far in November, with occupancy rates averaging 92% across all categories, compared with only 81% in November 2001 when many were still suffering from the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US. Medium tariff hotels were especially busy, averaging 96% occupancy, but even those in the top tariff category achieved 90% occupancy, compared with only 75% a year earlier.

The high occupancy levels were also reflected across all different districts. Hotels on Hong Kong Island outside the main Central to Causeway Bay tourist area reached 97% occupancy and those in Tsim Sha Tsui 94%.

For the 11 months of the year to date, average occupancy stands at 84%, compared with 78% in the same period of 2001. While average achieved hotel room rates remain below those of the first 11 months of last year, slipping 6.5% to HK$712, the trend is improving.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.