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Hong Kong: Mainland arrivals hit further new heights as momentum is maintained in May 2002

After reaching a record 1.4 million the previous month, visitor arrivals into Hong Kong maintained their momentum…

After reaching a record 1.4 million the previous month, visitor arrivals into Hong Kong<.> maintained their momentum in May 2002 with 1,332,248 visitors welcomed, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB<.>) said yesterday (27 June). This represents a 14.3% increase compared with May 2001.

In addition, arrivals from Mainland China reached further heights by setting a new record of 544,163, the second consecutive month that this fast-growing market has produced more than half-a-million visitors. Almost one-third of the total – 173,406 visitors – arrived in the first seven days of the month, as Mainland residents seized the opportunity of a golden week break for the May Day holiday.

There was good news, too, from most of Hong Kong`s other major markets in May, with all three of the long-haul regions showing positive growth for the second month in a row. Arrivals from Europe, Africa & the Middle East recorded a 1.6% increase to 93,567, while those from The Americas grew 0.5% to 109,737. More notable still was a 9.5% increase in arrivals from Australia, New Zealand & the South Pacific, which totalled 34,719.

The short-haul markets provided more mixed results. Arrivals from South & Southeast Asia showed an 8.4% increase to 172,212, with Indonesia (+31.1%), the Philippines (+20.7%) and India (+16.7%) doing especially well. On the other hand, arrivals from North Asia were 4.3% down on the same month in 2001, at 146,167. While May has traditionally been a strong month for leisure travel from Japan – which like the Mainland, enjoys a Golden Week holiday early in the month – the figures were dampened this year by economic concerns. Hong Kong received 1.5% fewer Japanese visitors in May this year, although other regional destinations are understood to have seen even greater falls. In addition, many travellers from South Korea and Japan are believed to have put their plans on hold because of the World Cup.

There was also a 4.2% fall in arrivals from Taiwan, where the ongoing effects of difficult economic conditions were compounded by a reluctance to travel in the latter stages of the month, following the crash of a Hong Kong-bound China Airlines flight on 25 May.

HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong said that the HSBC Mega Hong Kong Sale shopping extravaganza, launched by the HKTB on 15 June and running until the end of August, was especially targeted at expanding the number of visitors from short-haul markets in the traditionally lower-volume travel season.

This major event builds on Hong Kong`s reputation as a trendy, fashionable and exciting shopping destination, and will appeal in particular to younger demographic groups who live within easy reach of a long weekend trip to Hong Kong, she explained. In total, we expect to attract some 3.25 million visitors to Hong Kong over the 11-week HSBC Mega Hong Kong Sale period.

An equally important objective of this event is to reinforce Hong Kong`s reputation as a Shoppers` Paradise, which will help us build longer-term growth in all markets, Ms Chong added.

For the first five months of the year to date, total arrivals now stand at 6,328,901, a 14.2% increase on the same period in 2001. Almost 39% of the total are arrivals from the Mainland, which is showing 46.7% year-on-year growth. All three of the long-haul markets are now showing positive growth for the year, led by Europe, Africa & the Middle East (+2.6%).

Same-Day Visitors

During May, 34.7% of all visitors left for other destinations on the same day, a slight improvement on the 35.2% recorded in May 2001. Visitors most likely to stay for one night or longer were those from The Americas (82.0%), Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific (81.6%) and South & Southeast Asia (78.6%). In contrast, only 20.5% of those from Taiwan stayed overnight, as a significant proportion of Taiwan visitors are business people who continue by land to or from destinations in Southern China.

For the first five months of the year to date, 64.5% of all visitors have stayed for one night or longer, compared with 64.9% in the same period in 2001.

Hotel Occupancy

Average hotel occupancy across all categories was 83% in May, compared with 79% in the same month in 2001. Hotels in all different tariff groups matched or bettered their May 2001 occupancy, as did hotels in all different districts. The average achieved room rate fell 10.7%, however, reflecting strongly competitive rates from neighbouring destinations and the growing trend towards last-minute bargain hunting.

For the first five months of the year to date, average occupancy likewise stands at 83% (2001: 79%).

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