The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is pleased to announce that visitor arrivals in March this year totalled 1,732,326, a growth of 28.6% over the same month in 2003. Both long- and short-haul markets recorded positive growth for the month. Arrivals from Mainland China continued to show the strongest growth, increasing 47.0% in March as the number of individual travellers rose steadily and more than doubled the March 2002 figure. These percentages translate into a total arrival figure of 979,338 in March this year, a 47.0% increase over the same month in 2003 and a huge 110.5% increase on the 2002 figure. Comparison with the 2002 figures also indicates that arrivals from Europe and Australia are now ahead of pre-SARS levels, while those from The Americas and Southeast Asia are nearing a full recovery. Overall, the March 2004 arrivals are 33.5% above those recorded in March 2002.

A closer look at the figures for The Americas reveals that March 2004 arrivals from the region totalled 115,651, an 18.6% increase over the March 2003 figure, but 8.1% down on the equivalent figure for 2002, as international travel from the United States takes time to recover in the wake of Middle East tensions. Arrivals from Canada in March this year totalled 22,495 compared with 21,823 in the same month in 2003, a growth of 3.1%. Lily Shum, Regional Director The Americas, stated, “We can see from the 2002 comparisons that the picture is generally quite encouraging, with most markets now recovered close to or above pre-SARS levels.”
In March 2004, 63.0% of total arrivals in Hong Kong stayed for one night or longer, a similar proportion to the 63.7% who did so in March 2003. The remaining 37.0% were classified as “same-day in-town” visitors, meaning they departed for another destination on the same day as arrival. However, it should be remembered that same-day in-town visitors are a growing global tourism trend, though Hong Kong is especially affected due to its position as a major regional transport hub and gateway to China. Most longer-haul visitors stayed for one night or more. In March this year, this was 80.5% of all visitors from Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific; 76.9% from The Americas; 76.1% from Europe, Africa & the Middle East and 73.7% from South & Southeast Asia. For the first quarter of 2004 overall, 61.3% of all visitors have stayed for one night or more, compared with 63.2% for the same period in 2003.
With regard to hotel occupancy, the rate across all categories of hotels and tourist guesthouses in March was 94%, compared with only 79% in March 2003. Top tariff hotels showed an especially strong improvement, registering 92% occupancy compared with 70% a year earlier. Major contributing factors to this strong figure were the number of major trade fairs staged in Hong Kong during the month under review, together with a Rugby Sevens competition, both of which attract many high-spending visitors. The strong performance was also seen across all different hotel locations, with those on Hong Kong Island outside the main Central to Causeway Bay tourist corridor attaining 97% average occupancy. The average achieved hotel room rate was HK$791 (Can. $141), an 11.8% year-on-year increase.
Looking to the future, Ms Shum said, “Last years arrivals in April, May and June fell to their lowest levels in 12 years, so we are looking forward to recording some quite dramatic growth rates using the normal year-on-year comparison.”
Web site:www.DiscoverHongKong.com/canada

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