More Hongkongers want to travel abroad and they also plan to spend more these Christmas holidays, a survey found.
About 17 percent of 1,272 people interviewed by Shue Yan University in the first week of November said they planned to travel abroad over Christmas, up from last year's 14 percent. This was the highest number in five years.
Thomas Yuen Wai-kee, associate head of the university's department of economics and finance, said a strong US dollar, which is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar, encourages overseas travel. "The US dollar has appreciated against most Asian currencies, especially the Japanese yen," Yuen said.
On average, those intending to travel have set aside HK$11,020, while those who plan to stay in the SAR indicated they would spend HK$1,816.
About 45 percent said they expected to increase their Christmas spending up three percentage points from last year's 42 percent.
But researchers said the increased spending wass mostly on trips and would not benefit local shops. Those planning to spend on dining out, clothes and gifts was the same or slightly lower than last year.
Japan remained the top destination for travelers (24 percent), followed by the mainland, South Korea and Taiwan. Only 4 percent chose Southeast Asian destinations including Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, a significant drop from last year's 12 percent.
Wing On Travel deputy general manager Simon Ma Sai-man said long-haul group tours are already 80 percent full.
Shorter tours in Asia of four to five days are about 70 percent booked. Tour fees have increased by up to 3 percent overall, while Japan tours are up by around 10 percent.
Australia is the most popular long-haul destination because of the good weather and abundant promotions, Ma said.
"In previous winters, travelers also preferred northern Asia for its hot springs and skiing. This year Japan has become more popular than ever because of the continued low exchange rate of the yen," he said.
Hongkongers' appetite for Bangkok has yet to fully recover after the bomb attack in August, he said.