Hong Kong Visitor Arrivals surge to record 1.99 million in July 2004

Travel News Asia 1 September 2004

Hong Kong visitor arrivals in July 2004 soared to 1,990,705, the highest figure ever recorded in a single month, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced today. This is nearly 200,000 more than the previous highest monthly total of 1,792,698 achieved in December 2003 and over 600,000 more than the previous best July figure, recorded in 2002.

This strong performance is especially notable as July has not traditionally been a peak month. HKTB said that key contributory factors were the appeal of the Hong Kong Shopping Festival and continued growth in individual visitors from Mainland China. The result represents 54.1% growth compared with July 2003, when Hong Kong was starting its recovery from SARS, and 45.4% growth on July 2002. All market regions except Taiwan showed growth on both the 2003 and 2002 figures.

HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong said that the performance from the long-haul markets was especially encouraging. While Mainland China continues to be the main driver of growth, all three long-haul markets are now consistently well ahead of their 2002 levels, she noted. Were also delighted to see that North Asia has returned to positive growth for the first time in 17 months. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to relax because there are still a number of underlying factors that could dampen the growth trend. We need to strengthen our efforts in markets that have not yet made a full recovery like Japan and Taiwan, and continue to work hard in the other markets to ensure that the nascent recovery can be sustained.

Ms Chong said that the Hong Kong Shopping Festival was proving effective in luring more visitors and nearly 2.27 million arrivals had been recorded between the Festivals start on 26 June and the end of July. As the whole of August is still to be added in, we can be confident of exceeding our 3.7 million arrivals target for the full Festival period, she said. Early figures indicate that August will be another very strong month, so its clear that the efforts weve been making since 2002 to promote summer shopping in Hong Kong are turning the summer months into another peak period for tourism.

With more than 6,500 shops and restaurants participating citywide, and a strong promotional emphasis being put on late-night shopping, dining and entertainment, the Festival is not only attracting more visitors to come, but is also stimulating their spending and enjoyment, Ms Chong added.

For the first seven months of 2004 to date, total arrivals now stand at 12,003,323, 65.8% ahead of the same period in 2003 and 35.3% ahead of the 2002 figure.

Analysis by Markets, July and JanuaryJuly2004

Mainland China alone contributed 1,160,530 arrivals in July, another new record. This previous highest number of Mainland visitors welcomed in a single month was 1.12 million in January this year, when arrivals were boosted by the long Chinese New Year holiday. The July total represents 67.5% growth on the same month in 2003 and 105.3% growth on the 2002 figure.

Some 450,439 of the Mainland visitors 38.8% of the total, the highest proportion to date arrived under the Individual Visit Scheme, many attracted by the Hong Kong Shopping Festival. Another positive factor was the further extension of the Individual Visit Scheme to nine cities in Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, although the full benefits of this will take longer to be seen as this only came into effect on 1 July and the nine new cities are further from Hong Kong, and therefore less likely to generate spontaneous travel than those in Guangdong. In total, residents of 32 cities can now travel to Hong Kong as individuals under this scheme.

In the first seven months of 2004, Hong Kong has welcomed 6,828,661 Mainland visitors more than the number for the whole year in 2002, when there were 6.825 million Mainland arrivals. Compared with the first seven months of 2003, there has been a 73.8% increase. Some 2.05 million of these visitors have arrived under the Individual Visit Scheme, 30.1% of the total.

July arrivals from the Americas totalled 124,802, 87.3% growth on the same month in 2003 and 11.0% ahead of the 2002 performance. A Hong Kong Month staged by the HKTB during May as part of a booster campaign is starting to have a positive impact on arrivals from the United States, which rose 14.3% in July compared with the 2002 figure. Arrivals from Canada meanwhile showed 10.7% growth. Cumulatively, arrivals from the Americas in the first seven months are 82.3% above the same period in 2003 and are now back on a par with 2002.

Arrivals from Europe, Africa and the Middle East continue to show steady improvement with July arrivals reaching 105,455, growth of 65.6% and 14.0% respectively over the same months in 2003 and 2002. The United Kingdom, boosted by the strong economy, again led the way with 15.2% growth on the July 2002 figure. Encouragingly, France also returned to positive growth in July (+13.2% compared with 2002) in the wake of improved consumer sentiment for overseas travel, as did Germany (+1.6%), although both are still below 2002 levels for the year to date. For the first seven months of 2004, total arrivals from this region are 78.1% ahead of the same period in 2003 and 9.0% above those of 2002.

The Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific region is also showing a continued positive trend, recording 41,384 July arrivals which represents 85.3% growth on July 2003 and 31.7% on the 2002 figure. Awareness of Hong Kong has been boosted by the HKTBs Shopping Festival promotions and a strong Australian dollar is also making travel to the destination attractive. For the first seven months of 2004 overall, arrivals stand at 81.3% ahead of those for 2003 and 13.7% above 2002.

Arrivals from North Asia improved on their pre-Sars performance for the first time, with the total of 148,474 July arrivals equating to 2.2% growth on the same month in 2002. Although Japan remains in negative growth of 10.3%, this represents a continued steady recovery in this market, which was nearly 40% down at the start of 2004. An HKTB booster campaign launched in April has attracted strong support from the Japanese media and travel trade and is helping to accelerate the revival. Meanwhile, South Korea continues to show strong positive growth, with July arrivals being 41.4% above the 2002 figure. For the first seven months of 2004 overall, arrivals from this region show a 41.0% increase on the equivalent period in 2003 and a 16.3% decrease on the 2002 result.

South and Southeast Asia contributed 172,216 July arrivals, 64.0% more than in July 2003 and 12.5% more than in July 2002. Consumers interest was stimulated across the region by promotions for the Hong Kong Shopping Festival and some attractive air fares and travel packages. Thailand (+53.1% compared with July 2002) was the top performer, with outbound travel also boosted by two public holidays in July, while India (+26.1%) and the Philippines (+20.2%) also showed significant growth. For the first seven months of 2004, total arrivals for this region now stand at 89.9% ahead of the same period in 2003 and 6.2% ahead of 2002, although Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines are still slightly below 2002 levels.

Taiwan was the only market region not to match its 2002 performance in July, its 196,330 arrivals being 5.6% below those of July 2003 and 11.1% below July 2002. Outbound travel from this market to all destinations has been dampened by political and economic concerns, and Hong Kong is particularly affected as it is a major hub and transit point for travel between Taiwan and other regional or international destinations. With sentiment to travel now improving, however, the HKTB has recently stepped up its marketing efforts through a series of co-operative promotions with TV stations and major travel wholesalers. Taiwan remains Hong Kongs second largest source market with 1,179,098 arrivals in the first seven months of 2004, an increase of 28.3% on the same period in 2003 but a decrease of 14.8% on the 2002 figure.

Same-Day In-Town Visitors

In July, 63.4% of all visitors stayed one night or longer, compared with only 59.2% in July 2003. The remaining 36.6% were classified as same-day in-town visitors, departing for another destination on the same day as arrival. Most longer-haul visitors stayed for one night or more, notably those from the Americas (79.5%) and Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific (77.9%), while 76.0% of all visitors from South and Southeast Asia also did so. On the other hand, only 29.4% of Taiwan visitors stayed overnight, as many visitors from this market are in transit to/from Mainland China or other regional destinations; however, this compares favourably with the 26.0% recorded in July 2003.

For the first seven months of 2004, 62.5% of all visitors have stayed for one night or more, compared with 60.7% for the same period in 2003.

Hotel Occupancy

Average occupancy rate across all categories of hotels and tourist guest houses in July was 92%. This is the highest July figure since 1988 and it significantly improves on the 71% recorded in July 2003, when the citys tourism industry was still recovering from the SARS crisis, and 82% in July 2002. Top tariff hotels averaged 86% occupancy while those in the second tier reached 95%.

Hotels in the non-core tourist areas such as Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok and the Eastern District of Hong Kong Island were especially busy, averaging 96% occupancy. These areas are favoured by tour groups and some individual leisure travellers. The average achieved hotel room rate across all hotel categories and districts was HK$704, a 26.1% improvement on the July 2003 figure.

Cumulatively for the first seven months of 2004, average occupancy now stands at 86%, compared with 57% for the same period in 2003 and 82% in 2002. The average achieved hotel room rate is HK$753, a notable improvement on the HK$641 recorded for this period in 2003 and HK$685 in 2002.

See also: Hong Kong Visitor Arrivals - June 2004

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