Just four months after Hong Kong's tourism industry was devastated by the
impact of SARS, visitor arrivals returned to positive year-on-year growth in
August, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) have announced. A total of 1,644,878 arrivals were recorded in the month, 9.6%
ahead of the 1.50 million arrivals in August 2002.
The results mark a V-shaped recovery for the tourism industry, following
year-on-year shortfalls of 64.8% in April, 67.9% in May, 38.2% in June and
5.6% in July.
HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong said that although the Board had been
confident that the industry would stage a strong comeback, the speed of the
recovery had surpassed all expectations, thanks to the strong, all-round
support of the trade in providing attractive hotel and travel offers, as well as
many special privileges to visitors. "At the start of our Hong Kong Welcomes
You! promotion in mid-July, we set ourselves a target of two million visitors
during the two-month promotional period," she noted. "In fact, we reached
that target some three weeks early, during the third week of August, and for
the full welcome period up to 15 September we saw more than 3.1 million arrivals."
Nevertheless, Ms Chong cautioned, it would be premature to assume the
recovery was complete. "The challenge ahead of us is to ensure the revival
can be sustained, now that the pent-up demand has been satisfied and most
of the irresistible offers have run out. After some rapid catching up since June,
we expect the pace of the recovery to become more gradual in the coming months."
Ms Chong emphasised that the HKTB would strive to restore all markets to
pre-SARS levels as quickly as possible, in line with the objective of maintaining a balanced portfolio of visitors. "This is why we have just
launched our new global advertising campaign under the "Hong Kong - Live
it, Love it!" theme," she explained.
"It is also why we intend to continue staging a series of mega-events until the
first quarter of 2004 at least, and thus reinforce Hong Kong's long-term image
as a spectacular and exciting destination. Now is the time that many long-haul
visitors will be starting to plan next year's vacations, so it is crucial that we
keep creating excitement and international publicity for Hong Kong, and so
help to ensure a full recovery across all markets within 2004."
Analysis by Markets, August and January-August 2003
Boosted by the new visa relaxations allowing certain Mainland China
residents to travel to Hong Kong as individuals, which was extended from four
cities in Guangdong to eight from 20 August, arrivals from the Mainland hit an
all-time high of 946,122 for the month, a 43.4% increase on the figure for
Most other markets continued to show negative year-on-year growth,
although the gap is now rapidly narrowing. Arrivals from The Americas were a
modest 12.6% down, with the United States showing only a 10.4% decline, compared with 41.7% in July. Arrivals from Australia, New Zealand and South
Pacific were 18.2% down in total, but New Zealand recovered to the same figure as last August. And most countries in Europe, Africa & the Middle East
continued to make a steady fightback, with the market overall showing a 20.8% decline.
In the short-haul markets, arrivals from North Asia were 28.8% down, with
South Korea improving to a single-digit shortfall of 9.0%. Arrivals from South
& Southeast Asia were 16.0% down overall, but India returned to positive
growth of 1.1% while the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand all
showed continued recovery. Arrivals from Taiwan were 11.9% down.
Cumulatively, arrivals for the first eight months of 2003 now stand at 14.4%
down compared with the same period in 2002, due to four consecutive months
of substantial negative growth from April to July. Arrivals from the Mainland,
however, are showing positive overall growth of 18.6%. All other major markets are currently in negative overall growth of between 30% and 41% for
In August 2003, 33.5% of all visitors continued to other destinations on the
same day as arrival. This is a significant improvement on the 40.8% recorded
in July and 44.8% in June, showing that more of the longer-staying leisure
visitors are now coming back.
Many of those who depart on the same day as arrival are business people
from Taiwan, travelling via Hong Kong to or from other destinations in Southern China. In August, only 26.4% of all Taiwan visitors stayed for one
night or longer. In contrast, 77.1% of visitors from The Americas stayed for at
least one night, as did 74.6% of those from the Mainland, 74.5% of those from
Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific and 74.2% from South & Southeast
For the first eight months of 2003 to date, 61.8% of all visitors have stayed for
one night or longer, compared with 64.6% for the same period in 2002.
Average occupancy rate across all categories of hotels and tourist guest
houses in August was 88%, compared with 86% for the same month in 2002. This is the highest figure so far this year, reflecting a continued strong
recovery from the 71% average occupancy in July, 34% in June and just 18%
Hotels of all tariff categories and in all locations benefited from the improved
figures, with the highest tariff hotels achieving 78% occupancy, the same as in
August 2002. However, the improvement was most marked in medium tariff hotels, which are popular with Mainland tour groups; these establishments
averaged 94% occupancy during the month. Similarly, hotels outside the prime tourist areas performed most strongly; those in districts of Hong Kong
Island outside the Central to Causeway Bay corridor achieved 96% occupancy, and those in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok 93%.
Despite these improved occupancy rates, the average achieved hotel room
rate slipped slightly further in August to HK$556, 11.1% below the rate in
Cumulatively, occupancy for the first eight months of 2003 now stands at 61%,
compared with 82% for the same period in 2002, while the average achieved
hotel room rate is 7.0% lower at HK$630.