HONG KONG'S HALF-YEAR VISITOR ARRIVALS SOAR PAST TARGETS

Our good-news heading tells the story in a nutshell!  Visitors are flocking to Hong Kong in greater numbers than ever. Arrivals have passed the 10 million mark at the year’s halfway stage for the first time ever. The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced on 1 August that visitors to the region totalled 10,012,618 between January and June 2004, a figure 68.3% ahead of the same period in 2003 and almost 10 percentage points clear of the HKTB’s half-year growth forecast of 58.6%.

This achievement follows another strong performance in June this year, when Hong Kong welcomed 1,646,530 arrivals, the highest June figure on record. This figure represents a 127.0% increase on the June 2003 result, when Hong Kong was still listed as a SARS-affected area, and 40.2% growth on the June 2002 figure. The latter provides a more meaningful benchmark as 2002 had been a record year for the tourism industry. Lily Shum, Regional Director – The Americas, stated, “We were not expecting to pass the 10 million milestone until sometime in July. When you consider it was only in 1995 that we reached 10 million arrivals in a full year for the first time, it is really a remarkable achievement to reach that figure within half that time just nine years later. And this result keeps Hong Kong well on track to reach its goal of 20.5 million arrivals for the full year, which would be another important milestone. Arrivals in the second half of the year are always a little higher than in the first, so we are reasonably confident of achieving this aggressive target, as long as no unforeseen external factors arise.”

While Mainland China was again the largest contributor to the high arrival numbers in June (with 867,445 arrivals, increases of 84.3% and 104.7% over the same months in 2003 and 2002 respectively), The Americas played a significant part in the record-breaking numbers.  They regained their 2002 levels for the first time in four months, totalling 118,090 which is 304% above the June 2003 figure and 7.4% ahead of the 2002 result. Arrivals from Canada this June totalled 20,408, a 193.9% increase over 2003 figures and a 14.9% increase over the more critical June 2002 figure, while arrivals from the United States showed a 8.9% increase over the 2002 total.

In addition to the exciting June figures and the early passing of the 10 million milestone, the HKTB reports that the six-month performance was highly encouraging in that the region is now seeing steady growth across almost all markets, both long-haul and short-haul.  It had not been expected that the three long-haul markets would regain their 2002 levels until the third quarter of this year, but all of them have now already achieved that. Even Japan, though it has not yet returned to 2002 levels, is making more progress every month and has exceeded half-year targets. 

To return to the June 2004 figures, during that month 60.7% of all visitors to Hong Kong stayed one night or longer, a significant improvement on the 55.2% figure for June of the previous year. Most longer-haul visitors stayed for a night or more, notably those from Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific (79.0%) and The Americas (78.2%), while 78.4% of all visitors from South & Southeast Asia also did so.

Average hotel occupancy rates across all categories of hotels and tourist guest houses were also extremely encouraging during June 2004 with a rate of 86%, compared with only 34% in June 2003 when Hong Kong’s tourism industry was still being badly affected by the SARS crisis but also comparing favourably with the June 2002 figure of 79%. Looking at the first six months of this year, the average hotel occupancy rate now stands at 85% compared with 54% for the same period in 2003 and 82% in 2002.

Summing up all the encouraging figures, Ms Shum said, “June is traditionally one of the quieter months for Hong Kong tourism, so we are delighted that this year’s arrivals figure comfortably surpasses the previous best June record and now we are looking forward to a record-breaking year.”

For more information, contact the Hong Kong Tourism Board at 9 Temperance Street, Ground Floor, Toronto, Ontario M5H 1Y6
Tel: (416) 366-2389 or 1-800-563-4582, Fax: (416) 366-1098,
E-mail: yyzwwo@hktb.com

Web site: www.DiscoverHongKong.com/canada

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