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Hong Kong Visitor Arrivals - April 2004

Travel News Asia 8 June 2004

Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong in April 2004 totalled 1,736,496, the highest-ever April figure by more than 330,000.

Compared with the result for April 2003, when tourism was severely affected by the Sars outbreak, this represents a remarkable year-on-year increase of 251.8%. A fairer comparison with the 2002 figures nevertheless confirms that the recovery remains well on track, with April 2004 arrivals standing at 23.8% above those of April 2002.

For the first four months of 2004 combined, total arrivals now stand at 6.67 million, a 39.1% increase over the the same period in 2003 and a 33.5% increase on the 2002 figure.

Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Executive Director Clara Chong said that the figures kept Hong Kong well on track to meet its target of 20.5 million arrivals, which assumed growth of 31.8% on the 2003 total of 15.54 million. "Arrivals are now consistently ahead of pre-Sars levels in Australia, Europe and Southeast Asia, while the Mainland China market continues to grow strongly, boosted by the Individual Visit Scheme," she said. "We are also encouraged to see that only a small gap remains to be bridged in North America.

"The recovery is taking a little longer to achieve in Taiwan and North Asia, but in the latter case we are anticipating arrivals from Japan to pick up soon, following a very positive trade and consumer response to the Finding New Hong Kong booster campaign that we launched in this market in April."

2003 Tourism Expenditure

The HKTB also issued its 2003 tourism expenditure figures today, which show that the Total Expenditure Associated to Inbound Tourism reached HK$74.93 billion.

Despite a 6.2% fall in arrivals for 2003 in the wake of Sars, Destination Consumption Expenditure - defined as the payments made by visitors for goods and services consumed in Hong Kong - increased by 1.9% to HK$59.62 billion, mainly as the result of growth in per capita spending. Destination Consumption Expenditure is the main component of Total Expenditure.

The average per capita spending of overnight visitors (those staying one night or more) rose by 12.2% to HK$5,502, while that of same-day in-town visitors jumped by 30.8% to HK$811. Overnight visitors also stayed for longer: an average of 4.1 nights, compared with only 3.6 nights in 2002.

Especially encouraging is that this growth was seen across all major markets. Mainland China cemented its position as the highest-spending market, with the per capita spending of overnight Mainland visitors growing 6.7% to HK$6,018 and their length of stay increasing 6.4% to 4.8 nights. The Americas regained second place, with the per capita spending of overnight visitors showing a 20.7% recovery to HK$5,477, after slipping to HK$4,537 in 2002 as the result of reduced post-9/11 business travel. The average length of stay of overnight visitors from the Americas also rose 2.5% to 3.3 nights.

Taiwan (HK$5,176, +14.8%), Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific (HK$4,761, +16.9%) and South & Southeast Asia (HK$4,680, +14.2%) also recorded strong growth in the per capita spending of overnight visitors, while notable increases in length of stay were seen from Taiwan (2.5 nights, +7.0%) and South & Southeast Asia (3.2 nights, +6.2%).

Passenger International Transportation Expenditure - the receipts of Hong Kong based carriers for the cross-boundary transportation of non-resident visitors by air, sea or land - fell by 19.5% to HK$ 15.31 billion, due mainly to a sharp reduction in air travel to Hong Kong during the Sars-affected period. [NB: Passenger International Transportation Expenditure statistics are compiled by the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government.] As a result, Total Expenditure Associated to Inbound Tourism fell by 3.4%.

"What this means is that although arrivals were slightly down in 2003 due to Sars, those who came stayed longer and spent more," Ms Chong commented. "An important contributory factor, especially in the short-haul markets, is the programme of mega-events the HKTB has been organising with the strong support of our partners in the retail, catering and tourism-related sectors. These events give visitors more reasons to come to Hong Kong, and more reasons to stay longer and spend more when they do. We hope they will also encourage more visitors to bring family members with them," Ms Chong added.

Visitor Satisfaction

The HKTB's visitor surveys show that overall satisfaction rates also rose last year, from 7.4 points out of 10 in 2002 to 7.6 points in 2003. The increase was most marked among visitors from South & Southeast Asia, Taiwan and the Mainland, who gave Hong Kong a satisfaction rating 0.4 points higher than in 2002. Across all markets, 85% of visitors declared their intention to revisit, compared with only 80% in 2002, while 90% said they would recommend Hong Kong to friends.

Arrivals Analysis by Markets, April and January-April 2004

Due to the severe impact of Sars on tourism in April 2003, when arrivals were 64.8% down across all markets and over 90% down in some, all market regions recorded huge year-on-year growth of between 160% and 660% in April.

Mainland China remained the top performing market in April with 908,741 arrivals, a 182.0% increase on the 2003 figure. Of these, 225,712 visitors - 25.1% of the total - arrived under the Individual Visit Scheme, which covered 16 cities in March and has been extended to seven more since 1 May.

Additional factors contributing to the strong arrivals growth were some attractive special air fares and increased numbers of Mainland business visitors due to the staging of several major trade fairs in Hong Kong during April. Also, with the HKTB's encouragement, a number of Mainland travel agencies offered special 'side trip' packages to Hong Kong for visitors attending the popular Chinese Export Commodities Fair in Guangzhou. For the first four months of 2004, Mainland arrivals have now reached more than 3.83 million, a 56.0% increase over the same period in 2003.

South & Southeast Asia was the next highest contributor with 180,834 April arrivals, a massive 661.7% increase on the April 2003 figure. The long Easter holiday weekend helped attract leisure arrivals from the Philippines and India while the Songkran holiday in mid-April boosted arrivals from Thailand. Attractive air packages also helped lure visitors from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Arrivals from this region for the first four months of 2004 are now showing a 42.4% increase on the 2003 figures.

Taiwan provided 176,879 arrivals which is 163.4% ahead of the April 2003 figure. For the first four months of 2004, arrivals from Taiwan are 5.9% ahead of those for 2003.

April arrivals from North Asia totalled 126,813, 490.5% above the 2003 figure. The South Korean market continues to grow strongly but Japan is still taking time to recover, hence cumulative arrivals from North Asia for the first four months of 2004 remain 1.9% below those for 2003. The HKTB's Finding New Hong Kong booster campaign should help stimulate the revival in Japan, with a number of major travel companies and airlines developing special packages around the campaign.

Among the long-haul markets, Europe, Africa & the Middle East was the top April performer with 142,490 arrivals, 651.3% above the April 2003 figure. Growth for the first four months of 2004 now stands at an encouraging 45.6% above the same period in 2003.

The Americas contributed 123,377 arrivals, growth of 501.2% compared with April 2003. Cumulatively, January to April growth is 33.8% ahead of the 2003 figure. Arrivals from Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific totalled 40,328, 474.3% above those of April 2003. For the first four months of 2004, they stand at 35.3% above 2003 arrivals.

Same-Day In-Town Visitors

In April, 61.2% of all visitors stayed for one night or longer, a significant improvement on the 55.3% in April 2003, when the Sars outbreak encouraged many to keep their stay to a minimum. The remaining 38.8% 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 Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific (78.1%), The Americas (75.7%) and Europe, Africa & the Middle East (71.7%).

For the first four months of 2004, 62.7% of all visitors have stayed for one night or more, close to the 62.4% recorded for the same period in 2003.

Hotel Occupancy

The average occupancy rate across all categories of hotels and tourist guest houses in April was 86%, compared with just 22% in April 2003. Medium tariff hotels achieved an average 90% occupancy, while hotels on Hong Kong Island outside the main Central to Causeway Bay tourist corridor registered 92%.

The average achieved hotel room rate was HK$918, 42.9% ahead of the figure for April 2003 when rates fell sharply in the wake of Sars.

For the first four months of 2004, average occupancy rate now stands at 85%, compared with 67% for the same period in 2003, while average achieved hotel room rate is HK$784, a 13.8% increase.

See also: Hong Kong Visitor Arrivals show 28% growth in March 2004.

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