Hong Kong tourism industry roars into action

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The Independent Online

The tourism industry in Hong Kong is hoping for big things in this Year of the Tiger and from initial figures at least, everything is heading in the right direction -- and then some.

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The tourism industry in Hong Kong is hoping for big things in this Year of the Tiger and from initial figures at least, everything is heading in the right direction - and then some.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board began 2010 by declaring it expected 31.1 million visitors to enjoy the city's sights this year - up 5.2 percent from 2009.

And as the world's various economies begin to stabilize, that figure is looking well within range.

Figures for the first eight weeks of the year show that almost 5.5 million people made their way through town - a year-on-year rise of 18.2 percent, impressive even when you take into account that during the same period last year, travel was the last thing on anyone's mind.

"The outlook in general is healthy,'' said HKTB chief James Tien, on announcing the figures at a press conference here.

There have been some impressive growth figures in the early months of 2010 from some of the traditionally smaller markets feeding Hong Kong - in January, for example, North Asian numbers rose by 21.9 per cent to 196,965 while a resurgent South Korean economy helped see 238,894 visitors arrive from that destination, a year-on-year rise of 40.5 percent.

But Hong Kong is not forgetting who butters its bread.

The HKTB is continuing to look north and to China, which accounts for around two thirds of visitors to the city.

It has also announced a budget of HK$62 million (5.8 million euros) for promotions in mainland China this year and is hoping to lure a little further south some of the millions of inbound Chinese tourists heading to the May to October World Expo in Shanghai and to Guangzhou in November for the Asian Games.

"Hong Kong is well placed to benefit from the demand for outbound travel among the global and Mainland visitors,'' said Tien on announcing the plans to the Hong Kong press.

"In particular, the Mainland has emerged as the world's strongest single aviation market according to the International Air Transport Association.''

MS

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