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Hong Kong Tourism Board to unleash recovery campaign

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced a wide-ranging programme of special attractions and events that will be…

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced a wide-ranging programme of special attractions and events that will be staged over the next nine months to generate a recovery in the tourism industry, and re-establish Hong Kong`s reputation as one of the world`s most diverse and exciting destinations.

Following Hong Kong`s delisting by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an area with recent local transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the first major comeback events will be launched in mid-July, followed by new waves of follow-up attractions running right through to March 2004 and backed by a global advertising campaign.

Leading the way will be a Welcome Month, actually spanning two months from mid-July to mid-September and featuring a wide range of special travel offers and in-town activities. It will be launched on 13 July to coincide with the start of the three-day Boao Forum for Asia and World Tourism Organization (WTO) joint conference on Revitalising Asian Tourism, which is being staged in Hong Kong at the invitation of the Hong Kong Government and is expected to attract tourism leaders from more than 30 countries worldwide.

HKTB Chairman, The Hon Mrs Selina Chow, GBS, OBE, JP, said that in line with the community-wide revival efforts being led by the Government`s Economic Relaunch Strategy Group, the HKTB`s comeback campaign had been structured into three key phases – Response, Reassurance and Recovery.

The Response phase has already been completed, with the lifting of WHO`s advisory against non-essential travel to Hong Kong on 23 May, she explained. Our aim in this period was to ensure that fair, updated and objective information about the situation in Hong Kong was made available to our worldwide offices and trade partners, and through them to the overseas media and potential customers. We did more than 100 media interviews worldwide, and set up recovery task forces with the trade in key source markets. We hope this has helped to overcome some of the misconceptions about SARS, and has shown Hong Kong to be an open, responsible and concerned destination.

The Reassurance phase, Mrs Chow said, was put into place immediately after the lifting of the WHO advisory and has been aimed at showing the world that the SARS outbreak is now under control and that life is returning to normal in Hong Kong.

Among initiatives the HKTB has taken is the production of three video newsreels which have been distributed to major TV stations and networks in more than 60 countries worldwide. These feature interviews with visitors and expatriate business people, stating their confidence in Hong Kong, as well as showing the community out enjoying themselves again at events like the Dragon Boat Festival celebrations.

The Hong Kong and overseas offices have also been using press releases, media interviews and feature articles to spread the message that life in Hong Kong is back to normal, working closely with the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Offices and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council in relevant markets to deliver a strong and consistent message. Meanwhile, initial promotions have been resumed in markets that have lifted the travel advisories and quarantine requirements.

In addition, since the beginning of June, we have started inviting groups of trade and media back to see the situation for themselves, with the tourism industry`s strong support, Mrs Chow said. After all, `Seeing is Believing`. We have so far welcomed close to 500 international trade representatives and media, including groups from Europe, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Korea and India. And we have made sure that all these events are widely publicised in the participants` home markets, so that the reassurance message is well spread to consumers in those countries.

An extensive programme of trade and media familiarisation visits is to continue in the coming weeks, Mrs Chow noted. Also, the HKTB is planning travel missions to Guangdong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and Southeast Asia in July and August.

However, with the delisting of Hong Kong as a SARS-affected area, the time was now right to move into the next phase – Recovery.

Under the banner Hong Kong Welcomes You!, the HKTB`s Recovery programme will include:

  • A two-month long Welcome Month, to be launched on 13 July to coincide with the Boao/WTO Tourism Forum and running until mid-September. During this period, early customers will be lured back with some irresistible air and hotel offers, a series of special dining and shopping privileges when they arrive, and a Lucky Draw offering more than HK$10 million worth of prizes, which will also be opened to local residents to help stimulate domestic spending. The promotional programmes will be carefully timed and tailored to each different market, based on assessments of consumer sentiment gathered from HKTB market research studies and travel trade feedback.
  • A major Welcome Day in mid-August, at the mid-point of the two welcome months, when leading trade and media representatives from all over the world will be invited to Hong Kong to enjoy a spectacular series of special, news-making events.
  • A series of mega events and promotions running from mid-August until the end of March 2004. These events will ride on Hong Kong`s unique harbour and lighting, showcasing the city`s energy and vibrancy, and creating new excitement and experiences for visitors worldwide. They will also make full use of popular and well-established, colourful festive periods in Hong Kong, such as Mid-Autumn Festival, Christmas and Chinese New Year. With a new event being added each month, travel agents will have a sustained supply of must see attractions that they can use to arouse customers` desire to visit Hong Kong.

Supporting these various initiatives, and adding further appeal to the destination, will be a series of world-class sporting and cultural events being brought to Hong Kong in the coming months by the Government and the private sector.

At the same time, the HKTB, along with its tourism partners and the Government, will participate in a series of roadshows to promote Hong Kong in 28 major cities worldwide.

The HKTB will also make full use of the recovery events and attractions to re-energise business in the convention, exhibition, corporate meetings and cruise sectors, and will organise special campaigns to target these important, high-yield markets.

Although our immediate aim to `jump start` the revival of Hong Kong`s tourism industry and bring visitors back as quickly as possible, the recovery programme is also looking at the long term, Mrs Chow noted. That is one of the reasons why we want to make it a sustained and memorable programme, extending into the first quarter of next year.

Our recovery plan is sustainable and forward looking, combining both short-term initiatives that will attract visitors back with unbeatable special offers, and spectacular events that can reinforce Hong Kong`s long-term destination image and reputation. Our key objectives are to revive Hong Kong`s tourism industry, revive business in key source markets, and build on Hong Kong`s core strengths and values to reinforce its positioning as a significant market in the international arena.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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