Hong Kong tourism numbers up and the Christmas lights go on

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The Independent Online

The festive season cheer has come early for the Hong Kong tourism industry with the announcement -- just as the city launches its annual WinterFest -- that visitor numbers are once again on the rise.

(Relaxnews) -

The festive season cheer has come early for the Hong Kong tourism industry with the announcement - just as the city launches its annual WinterFest - that visitor numbers are once again on the rise.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board reports that total arrival numbers for October came in at 2,761,945 - up nine percent from the same time a year ago.

Tempering the joy somewhat was the overall figure for the 10-month, January-October period - at 23,921,918, it represented a year-on-year decline of 1.6 percent.

But the HKTB was quick to tuck those figures in behind that fact that the city's main source for tourism - mainland China - continues to send more and more people.

Overall, in the month of October there were 22.8 percent more mainland Chinese visitors (1,686,686 in total) than 12 months ago.

And while the mainland Chinese tourism market is certainly keeping the cash registers ringing in Hong Kong, the other good news was the fact that some of the city's "emerging'' tourism markets continue to flourish.

India (up 25.6 percent), Russia (up 29.7 percent) and the Middle East (up 25.1 percent) were all on the rise in October.

And Hong Kong is hoping some dazzling displays of Christmas lights and some tasty festive treats will encourage even more to visit the city.

In launching WinterFest, the HKTB's chairman James Tien said in a press release that short-haul visitors were the main target.

"Our resources for promoting Hong Kong WinterFest in Mainland China and other short-haul markets have increased by 30 percent over last year. About half of the total amount has gone to the mainland market," he said.

As well as its famous Christmas lights - which are set up on the city's skyscrapers surrounding Victoria Harbour - and the various festive displays to be found in Hong Kong's ubiquitous malls, the HKTB is this year pushing the city's culinary delights, through those malls again, various restaurant districts and with the publication of a Hong Kong Winter Delicacies Guide.

The guide will highlight the "many specialties of Hong Kong during the winter season, such as rice in clay pot and hot pot recommended by celebrities and food critics from around the region,'' according to the HKTB.

MS

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