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Hong Kong Visitor Arrivals in 2005 pass 23 million

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com 23 January 2006

Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong grew to more than 23 million in 2005, an increase of 7.1% compared with the previous year. This not only sets a new annual record, but also further builds on the exceptional performance that followed Hong Kongs full recovery from SARS in 2004.

Visitor numbers from international markets increased by 13.1% to a record 10.8 million. Arrivals from Mainland China increased to a new high of more than 12.5 million in 2005, a rise of 2.4% over the previous year.

All Hong Kongs long- and short-haul market regions grew in 2005, with most showing double-digit increases over 2004. Among key individual markets, record performances were set by Australia, Canada, Mainland China, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the UK and the US, as well as such smaller and emerging markets as Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and South Africa.

Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Executive Director Clara Chong expressed her satisfaction that arrivals had reached their targeted 23 million. The strong growth in arrivals from almost every international market is clear proof that Hong Kong has sustained its appeal as a destination in the face of very tough competition. Thanks to the steadfast support of the Government and the travel industry, we were also able to achieve a balance of visitors from all key markets, which is so critical to Hong Kongs image as an international destination and its positioning as Asias world city, she said.

As far as our arrivals from the Mainland are concerned, the modest growth in 2005 is proof that we have consolidated the extraordinary gains of 2004. The recent extension of the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) should enable us to raise Hong Kongs profile in secondary and emerging cities in the Mainland, and we look forward to further steady growth, augmenting the very high base of arrivals that we have already achieved from across the border, Ms Chong added.

In view of the continued largely positive global environment, the recent and forthcoming openings of several major new tourism attractions and the launch of the 2006 Discover Hong Kong Year global campaign, Ms Chong said that she was cautiously expecting tourism arrivals to further grow in 2006. While the current conditions suggest that our target of 27 million visitors this year is realistic, we are mindful of the potential impact of external factors such as avian flu and rising oil prices. As a result, we will continue to monitor the market situation closely, and ensure that flexibility in our planning enables us to maximise the returns in the face of changing market situations, she said.

Analysis by Markets, January-December and December 2005

Mainland China continued to be the leading source of visitors to Hong Kong in 2005, with arrivals for the year reaching 12,541,400, 2.4% higher than in 2004. Owing to the progressive extension of the Individual Visitor Scheme (IVS), which now applies to some 227 million residents of 38 cities in the Mainland, more than 5.5 million Chinese citizens travelled to Hong Kong as individuals, 44.3% of the total from across the border and 30.3% more than in 2004. In December, 1,178,446 (+2.8%) Mainland residents visited Hong Kong, of which 45.8% (539,637, +11.7%) travelled under the IVS.

Arrivals from South and Southeast Asia reached 2,412,974 in 2005, 16.1% more than in the previous year, a new record that confirmed its position as Hong Kongs second largest regional source market. Singapore (573,330, +23.6%), Malaysia (392,047, +15.4%), Thailand (380,412, +20%), India (273,487, +11.9%) and Indonesia (260,487, +12.1%) all achieved their best performances ever, while arrivals from the Philippines also grew strongly (391,049, +16.2%). December arrivals reached 283,792, 14.4% for than the same month in 2004, with Indonesia (+30.5%), the Philippines (+22.2%), India (+18.8%) and Malaysia (+16%) being the best performers. 

Visitor numbers from Taiwan grew by 2.7% to 2,130,565 in 2005, with an increase in leisure traffic not only offsetting the decline in same-day in-town business arrivals who continue to take advantage of direct ferry services from SkyPier to Pearl River Delta destinations, but also resulting in a 2.7 percentage point growth of overnight visitors from the island. However, monthly arrivals for December saw a slight 1.4% slippage to 181,011.

Arrivals from North Asia grew by 11.3% over the year to 1,853,328, spearheaded as in 2004 by a strong performance from South Korea (642,480, +19.2%). Japanese arrivals (1,210,848, +7.5%) saw a more modest rise, as the robust growth in outbound travel in the early months of 2005 was offset by a decline during the second half of the year, which limited the overall increase in departures from Japan between January and November to 3.8%. In December, monthly arrivals from North Asia were 174,770, of which Japan contributed 116,686 (-5.6%) and South Korea 58,084 (+13.6%).

Among long-haul markets, Europe, Africa and the Middle East took the lead with record arrivals of 1,725,552 (+25%), comfortably exceeding the regions previous all-time high set in 1996. While the United Kingdom (464,601, +13%) was the biggest national source market, France (185,601, +25.3%) and Germany (204,625, +20.6%) also performed strongly, as did such secondary and emerging markets as South Africa (77,520, +42.6%), Italy (97,926, + 23.9%) and the Netherlands (89,067, +23.3%). December arrivals from this market rose to 134,787, a 24.7% increase compared with 2004, spurred by strong growth from the Netherlands (+32.5%), South Africa (+25.2%) and France and Germany (both 16%). 

Following close behind was the Americas with 1,565,350 arrivals (+11.8%) during 2005. Leading the field was the United States, with its 1,143,089 arrivals (+8.7%) setting a new record, while Canada also achieved an all-time-high of 308,842 visitors (+12.7%). Although proportionately small, arrivals from the emerging Central and South American markets grew very strongly during 2005, recording 94.8% and 106.8% increases respectively. December arrivals from the Americas grew by 6.7% to 129,180, with the US providing 91,099 (+2.8%) and Canada 31,412 (+7.9%).

Although the smallest of Hong Kongs seven source regions, Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific repeated its 2004 performance by showing the highest growth rate of all, with a 28.3% increase to 620,217 arrivals setting a new record. Both Australia (525,577 arrivals, +28.5%) and New Zealand (89,522, +24.8%) also set new highs. December arrivals from the region reached 58,491 (+15.4%).

Same-Day In-Town Visitors

During 2005, 63.2% of all visitors stayed one night or longer, a small increase on the 62.6% who did so in 2004. The remaining 36.8% were classified as same-day in-town visitors, departing for another destination on the same day as arrival, a trend reflecting Hong Kongs increasing importance as a regional transport hub.

Most long-haul visitors stay one night or more, including 79.7% of 2005 arrivals from Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, 76.5% from The Americas and 73.7% from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, which all represented a small decrease on 2004. Some 73.7% of visitors from South & Southeast Asia also stayed overnight, also a slight fall, while the percentage from North Asia was identical, at 64.2%. Meanwhile, the 64% of visitors from the Mainland who stayed at least one night in Hong Kong was a small increase over 2004.

While Taiwan has always provided the highest number of same-day in-town visitors, as many travellers from this market are in transit to or from the Mainland and other regional destinations, the percentage that stayed overnight grew from 26.4% in 2004 to 29.1% in 2005, reflecting an increase in leisure travel from the island.

Overnight arrivals in December 2005 increased by 1.4 percentage points over 2004. Regional markets showing small increases over the previous year were the Mainland, Taiwan and Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific.

Hotel Occupancy

The average occupancy rate across all categories of hotels and tourist guest houses reached 86% for the whole of 2005. While this is a slight drop from 2004, it does reflect a significant growth in the supply of hotel rooms, which rose from 39,128 rooms in 101 properties at the end of 2004 to 43,866 rooms in 118 properties at the end of 2005. 

Top tariff hotels averaged 84% in 2005, identical to the occupancy rate in 2004, while those in the second and third tiers reached 86% and 87%, respectively three and two percentage points lower than in the previous year. Hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui and Yau Ma Tei/Mongkok achieved the highest average occupancy over the year of 87%. The average achieved hotel room rate across all hotel categories and districts in 2005 was HK$934, a 16.4% improvement on the 2004 figure.

See also: Hong Kong Visitor Arrivals for November 2005

See other recent news regarding: Hong Kong, Visitor Arrivals

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