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More records set as August 2002 Hong Kong visitor arrival figures pass 1.5 million

Hong Kong<.>‘s tourism industry is maintaining this year’s record-breaking trend, with arrivals in a single month passing…

Hong Kong<.>‘s tourism industry is maintaining this year’s record-breaking trend, with arrivals in a single month passing >b?1.5 million for the first time in August 2002, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB<.>) announced recently.



Arrivals from all markets totalled 1,501,078, a 20.5% increase on the figure for August 2001. Meanwhile, arrivals from Mainland China, which reached a new peak of 565,322 only the previous month, eclipsed this record by soaring to 659,726 in August, a 55.6% year-on-year increase. All other markets except The Americas also recorded healthy growth.



A surge in Mainland and South & Southeast Asian visitors in the last week of August took final arrivals for the 11-week HSBC Mega Hong Kong Sale promotion to 3.52 million, a growth of 16.6% compared with the same period in 2001. This comfortably exceeds the original forecast of 3.25 million visitors for the sale period.



For the first eight months of 2002 to date, total arrivals have now increased by 14.4% to 10,372,874, leading the HKTB to upgrade its full-year forecast to 15.35 million arrivals, representing 11.8% growth on the 2001 result.



HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong explained that the Board had taken a conservative view in drawing up its original 2002 forecast of 14.8 million visitors (+7.9%) at the beginning of this year. A number of our markets were going through economic uncertainties at that time, while the global tourism market was still suffering the effects of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, she noted.



Indeed, the market remains quite fragile, as these issues still exist, while there are added concerns such as turbulence in the airline industry and the possibility of conflict in the Middle East. We therefore continue to take a cautious outlook. Nevertheless, we are now confident that a final arrivals figure well in excess of 15 million is achievable.



The powerful driving force behind Hong Kong’s success this year, Ms Chong observed, was clearly the Mainland China market. At this time last year, the highest number of Mainland visitors we had ever welcomed in a single month was 423,000. We reached the half-million mark for the first time in April this year, and now we are seeing numbers in excess of 650,000. With the number of authorised Mainland travel agencies being further increased from 67 to 528 at the beginning of October, we can expect to see this trend continuing.



Analysis by Markets



In addition to Mainland China, where August is the peak month for student and family travel, most other source markets showed encouraging growth in August.



Arrivals from South & Southeast Asia grew 7.4% compared with the same month last year, led by Thailand (+19.7%) and the Philippines (+18.2%). As well as increased leisure travel attracted by special HSBC Mega Hong Kong Sale packages, business traffic from this region was boosted by a number of major trade fairs held in Hong Kong during the month. Arrivals from Taiwan recorded their first increase since February, with the recent increase in air capacity helping contribute to 2.2% visitor growth. North Asian arrivals increased by 1.0%.



In the long-haul markets, arrivals from Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific continued their upward trend, growing 3.1%, while those from Europe, Africa & the Middle East rose by 1.6%. Only The Americas (-1.3%) recorded negative growth, with stock market concerns and fear of more terrorist attacks continuing to have an effect on long-haul travel from the United States. Nevertheless, arrivals from Canada increased by 1.8%.



Cumulative figures for the first eight months of 2002 show Mainland China leading the way with a 44.8% increase to 4,110,047 arrivals, almost as many as for the whole of 2001. Arrivals from South & Southeast Asia are showing a 4.5% increase, followed by Europe, Africa & the Middle East (+3.0%) and Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific (+1.5%). On the other hand, The Americas (-0.1%), North Asia (-1.1%) and Taiwan (-2.5%) currently remain in negative overall growth, although the latter two markets are now showing an encouraging upward trend.



Same-Day Visitors



During August there was a small increase in the percentage of visitors staying for one night or longer, which rose to 67.1% from 65.9% in the same month last year. The remaining 32.9% continued to other destinations on the same day. There was an increase of two percentage points, to 74.9%, in overnight stayers from Mainland China, while more visitors from Taiwan also stopped overnight, although this remains the principal short stay market with only 26.6% staying for one night or more. At the other end of the scale, 81.9% of all visitors from The Americas did so.



For the first eight months of the year to date, 64.6% of all visitors have stayed for one night or longer, an almost identical figure to the 64.7% recorded in the same period in 2001.



Hotel Occupancy



Average hotel room occupancy across all categories was 86% in August, a significant increase on the 81% achieved in the same month in 2001. The improvement was reflected across all different categories of hotels and tourist guest houses, with top tariff (High Tariff A) hotels achieving 78% occupancy (2001: 72%) and medium tariff hotels 89% (2001: 86%).



Hotels in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok averaged 93% occupancy, while those on Hong Kong Island outside the main Central to Causeway Bay corridor achieved 91%.

For the first eight months of the year to date, average occupancy stands at 82%, compared with 79% in the same period of 2001. Nevertheless, there is still downward pressure on hotel room rates, with average achieved rates showing a 10.8% fall to HK$677 compared with the first eight months of last year.

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