Opinion | Golden opportunity for Hong Kong to reap holiday travel boom rewards

After emerging from the coronavirus pandemic that has been dragging on for more than a year, many Chinese are eager to travel for the upcoming Labor Day holiday.

There are expectations of a boom for the mainland’s tourism industry, as evidenced by the recent rise in bookings, but it remains to be seen how much Hong Kong will be able to capitalize on this boom.

Local authorities must come up with more targeted and effective promotions to avoid losing the city.

Since last week, domestic flight bookings for Golden Week have risen 21 percent compared to last year, according to mainland ticketing company Omitrip. Hotel bookings for lower-tier cities on travel platform Ctrip also rose 68 percent year-on-year.

Visa fee charges for overseas trips during the upcoming holiday were also said to have exceeded those in the corresponding period of 2019. All of which bodes well for the mainland’s health recovery to the pre-pandemic level.

Hong Kong’s tourism sector hopes to increase the number of visitors by 30% during “Golden Week”

There have been suggestions that Hong Kong remains a top destination for mainlanders due to its ease of access, and these appear to be supported by the latest access figures.

The city recorded a 154.3 percent increase in the number of visitors in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2023, with 11.2 million arrivals. As many as 3.4 million visitors visited the city last month, an increase of 38.6 percent over the previous year. More than 70% of them – or 2.47 million – came from the mainland.

But these numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels. Changing travel patterns and consumption behavior mean that earning tourism dollars is no longer as easy as it used to be.

The city shouldn’t rest on its laurels and assume that hordes of mainland tourists will descend on it during Golden Week. If recent experience is any guide, they may not spend much even if they come.

Many now come here for an immersive cultural experience or walking through the city rather than shopping and dining. The benefits to related industries cannot be taken for granted.

Hong Kong’s John Lee pledges to attract more tourists during the Golden Week holiday.

The government has budgeted up to HK$1.09 billion (US$139 million) to boost tourism, including an unspecified amount for subsidized trips for 2,000 industry professionals, celebrities and online influencers who have produced more than 330 short videos documenting their travel experiences in Hong Kong. Kong.

While the videos have been broadcast on more than 3,000 platforms around the world, with up to 200 million views, it is difficult to measure their effectiveness in attracting more tourists.

CEO Jun Lee Ka-chiu pledged to attract more visitors, adding that he was happy that local businesses were adapting to changing demands and consumption patterns.

Our ability to play to our strengths as a hospitality city and deliver quality visitor experiences will be a true test of its development.

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