Tourist data up amid discount pitch to lure Southeast Asians

Top News | Sophie Hui 1 Aug 2018

Visit Hong Kong at bargain prices. The markdowns specifically target Koreans, Taiwanese and Southeast Asians.

Visitors from these regions have dropped off somewhat though tourist arrivals continue to rise as mainlanders continue to flock to Hong Kong.

To reverse things a bit, the Tourism Board, airlines and other industry stakeholders have come up with budget-appealing packages.

Visitors from the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand can enjoy an air ticket to Hong Kong from HK$360, one way, via Air Asia, Hong Kong Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Singapore Airlines, as well as online booking service Traveloka. Discounted air tickets will also be offered to South Korean visitors.

The board is working with Cathay Pacific to lop off 20 percent off tickets - about HK$2,000 - for tourists who will also get restaurant and other discounts by showing their boarding passes.

Similar promotions will be launched in markets like Japan and Taiwan.

The board's executive director, Anthony Lau Chun-hon, said the tourism industry will face different challenges in the second half of the year, including an unstable global economy and exchange rates, as well as the impact of the US-China trade war.

"Competition in tourism destinations in the region has been more intense," he said.

"In the past six months, we saw competition in different destinations affecting our performance in the short-haul market."

Lau said places like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have been attracting more tourists from Southeast Asia, for which "there is stiff competition."

Overall visitor arrivals reached 30.6 million in the first six months, a 10.1 percent increase from the same period last year, driven by a 13.4 percent rise in mainland tourists.

But the number of short-haul tourists during the period dropped 1.5 percent. The biggest decline was from Indonesia and Singapore, whose visitor numbers fell 8.5 percent and nearly 6 percent, respectively.

The number of Taiwanese and South Korean visitors in the first six months also decreased nearly 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

The number of overnight visitors rose 6.2 percent in the first half of the year to 13.8 million. The average spending of overnight visitors in the first half also increased 7 percent to more than HK$6,700 per person.

Lau said the board will enhance promotions in short-haul markets in the second half to attract more family and young visitors to Hong Kong.

The board is cooperating with airlines and travel agents to offer discounted tickets this summer to visitors from Asian countries.

He said the board will continue other tourism promotions in the next six months.

The soon-to-start cross-border express rail service and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will treat visitors to a new travel experience, he said.

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