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HKTB adopts improved method for compiling Tourism Expenditure Figures

As part of a continuing effort to improve the quality of tourism statistics and reflect changing global tourism trends, the Hong Kong Tourism Board…

As part of a continuing effort to improve the quality of tourism statistics and reflect changing global tourism trends, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced the adoption of a new methodology for compiling and presenting tourism expenditure statistics.

Application of the new methodology has been made possible by the enhancement of HKTB`s strategic planning and research functions and the expansion of its data sample collection. The change is also intended to align Hong Kong with a new standardised system recommended by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) for measuring the economic impact of tourism on each destination more comprehensively. Hong Kong, as a member of the WTO and a leading tourism destination, is fully supporting the new system.

A major change introduced by the new methodology is that the previous computation of Tourism Receipts has been replaced by a new and more comprehensive measurement entitled Tourism Expenditure Associated to Inbound Tourism, which provides further categorisation and segmentation of tourism spending. This, in turn, comprises two main elements: Destination Consumption Expenditure (the sum of all payments made by visitors and travellers for goods and services consumed in Hong Kong) and Passenger International Transportation Expenditure (the receipts of Hong Kong based carriers for cross-boundary transportation of non-resident visitors by air, sea or land).

In addition, the Destination Consumption Expenditure data provides more detailed breakdowns of expenditure by different market segments, including overnight visitors, same-day in-town visitors, cruise passengers, servicemen, aircrews and transit/transfer passengers.

The new methodology has been adopted with effect from the 2002 tourism expenditure figures. In 2002, the total Tourism Expenditure Associated to Inbound Tourism amounted to HK$77.4 billion, comprising HK$58.5 billion in Destination Consumption Expenditure and HK$18.9 billion in Passenger International Transportation Expenditure.

Because of the different methodologies used, the new tourism expenditure figures cannot be directly compared with those previously announced. To facilitate comparison with past trends, however, the HKTB in collaboration with the Census and Statistics Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has prepared backdated series of historical data for 2001 and earlier years, based on the new methodology.

The backdated figures show that 2002`s total Tourism Expenditure Associated to Inbound Tourism represents a 25.3% increase on the 2001 result. Meanwhile Destination Consumption Expenditure has steadily risen for the past three years in line with increased visitor arrivals, achieving a 27.1% increase in 2002 compared with the previous year.

Passenger International Transportation Expenditure has risen in each of the past four years except 2001, when it was affected by the local flight crew dispute and the impact of 9/11 on air travel. However it recovered by 20.0% in 2002. This is a new element included in the compilation of tourism expenditure statistics in view of its direct relevance to inbound tourism and its growing importance.

The average per capita spending of overnight visitors in 2002 rose by 6.9% to HK$4,904, led by the Mainland market which achieved per capita spending of HK$5,639 (+9.1%), due in part to a high average length of stay (4.52 nights). The second highest-spending market region was Europe, Africa & the Middle East (HK$4,950, +4.8%). Other markets to increase their per capita overnight visitor spending were North Asia (HK$4,355, +9.2%), South & Southeast Asia (HK$4,097, +3.7%) and Taiwan (HK$4,508, +1.9%).

The more detailed categorisation of visitors in line with the revised WTO system means that spending by same-day in-town visitors is reported separately for the first time, to provide the industry with better understanding and tracking of their behaviour. Hong Kong has seen a steady increase in same-day in-town visitors in recent years due to its growing importance as a major regional transport hub and gateway to China. The 2002 figures reveal that their average per capita spending was HK$620, of which 76% went on shopping, and the remainder on meals and other items such as public transport. Again, same-day in-town visitors from the Mainland were the highest spenders, with an average spending of HK$961 per capita.

HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong commented that the more detailed analysis of different categories of visitor would give the Board valuable new insights in its efforts to maximise their stay and spending. As all types of visitor are important to us, we need to keep our marketing strategies constantly adjusted to reflect changing travel patterns and optimise the contribution of each different group, she explained.

The figures show clearly that Mainland visitors make a crucial contribution to the economy, Ms Chong added, as they are not only the largest market by number but also the highest spenders. At the same time, however, the HKTB was determined to attract more high-yield visitors from other markets as well.

Maintaining a balanced portfolio of visitors from different markets is important both from a business perspective, to minimise risk, and as a way of ensuring that Hong Kong retains its cosmopolitan, multi-cultural atmosphere in keeping with its status as Asia`s world city, she emphasised.

Ms Chong said that it was too early at this stage to make any forecasts for 2003 Tourism Expenditure. Obviously SARS is going to have a significant impact on the figures, as although monthly arrivals have made a rapid recovery, they are still 9.5% down over the first ten months of the year, compared with the same period in 2002, she noted. The long-haul markets in particular are taking longer to recover, due to a longer planning and booking lead time.

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