Tourists planning shorter stays

Local | Sophie Hui and Amy Nip 21 Feb 2018

Sophie Hui and Amy Nip

More tourists are expected to visit Hong Kong this year, but their stays will be shorter and they will spend less, according to the Tourism Board.

It projected overall visitor arrivals to go up by 3.6 percent to 60.6 million, including a 4 percent increase in the number of overnight visitors.

However, the average length of visits may be 0.1 night shorter, dropping to 3.1 nights. The average spending per person may also fall 1.5 percent to HK$6,347.

Tourism Board executive director Anthony Lau Chun-hon said changing travel patterns of mainlanders will contribute to the fall in the average length of stay.

He said the length of stay of visitors from long- and short-haul markets has not changed much in the past 10 years.

Since about 70 percent of tourists are from the mainland, this has reduced the average length of stay of overnight visitors, Lau said.

"The only major factor that drives the decrease was mainly mainland China visitors whose stay tend to be shorter than before," he said.

Lau said mainland visitors currently stay an average of 2.5 nights in the city. A decade ago, that average stood at 3.3 nights.

"I think this is because Hong Kong is increasingly becoming more of a short-break destination. I think many mainland visitors who want a break will come over for a long weekend," he said. "In the past, they came here for six, seven days."

As for tourists spending less, Lau said this has to do with a change in shopping behavior.

"People's behavior is changing, they are purchasing less expensive items," he said.

Online shopping is another factor that affects spending, while shorter trips and rising hotel rates also account for reduced spending.

Last year, tourist arrivals increased by 3.2 percent to 58.5 million, ending a decline in the previous two years. Mainland visitors increased by 3.9 percent to 44.4 million, while those from short-haul markets rose 2.9 percent to 8.9 million.

The board received HK$400 million in government funding for the 2018/19 financial year, including recurrent funding of HK$325 million and a one-off approved additional fund of HK$76.5 million.

With the 10th anniversary of the Wine and Dine Festival coming up, the October event will be bigger than ever, with food trucks possibly invited. Following positive responses from "Old Town Central," more district-themed promotions will be launched, starting with Sham Shui Po.

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