The Tourism Board spent HK$20 million to market its trademark Wine and Dine Festival but failed to appeal to tourists, the Audit Commission said.
The commission found that only 11 percent of tourists were aware of the festival last year, despite marketing costs going up nearly 60 percent from HK$12.3 million in 2018 to HK$20 million last year.
The auditor also criticized the board for its poor promotion of other mega-events, such as the e-Sports and Music Festival, which only saw 7 percent of tourists participate last year.
Meanwhile, it suggested the board enhance its reporting of mega-events' performance to the board's Product and Event Committee.
Among nine mega-events between 2018 and 2019, only one reported its performance for the "event awareness" indicator.
Likewise, the auditor recommended the board track the exact number of non-local attendees for its studies on mega-events' attendance, in addition to using its existing "visitors' split" indicator - which only tracks the percentage of non-local attendees.
Similarly, among 32 mega-events organized by the board between 2015 and 2019, 20 did not provide budgetary information with a cost breakdown to the Product and Event Committee.
The auditor also advised the board to establish a mechanism to assess the effectiveness of mega-events in pushing visitor spending and bringing economic benefits to Hong Kong, as the board spent an enormous HK$289 million on mega-events last year.
The auditor appealed to the board to encourage merchants to participate in the Quality Tourism Services Scheme, which helps visitors identify quality tourism service providers.