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Monday, September 14, 2015, 17:12

Hong Kong steps up efforts to turn tourist tide

By Xinhua

Hong Kong steps up efforts to turn tourist tide
Visitors walk down Russell Street in Causeway Bay. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying says the main reason for the decline in the number of tourists visiting Hong Kong is the behavior of some local “nativists”. (Micky Chan / China Daily)

HONG KONG - A narrowing tourist stream in Hong Kong since this summer has persuaded the region's government to work on strategies to win visitors back.

According to the latest government data, business generated by tourism, convention and exhibition services of Hong Kong contracted 4.2 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2015. The accommodation services industry registered a similar but steeper drop of 10.9 percent.

The total number of overnight visitor arrival in Hong Kong in the first half of 2015 slid 3.8 percent, compared to the same period last year, Hong Kong Tourism Board statistics revealed.

Hong Kong Disneyland, The Peak, Madame Tussauds were not spared, with each recording more than 10 percent year on year drop in the number of visitors during June to August.

Vivian Lee Ling-fung, Sales and Marketing Executive Director of Hong Kong Ocean Park, said since the economy in peripheral regions was not bright and the RMB having depreciated, fewer visitors were coming to Hong Kong, which, in turn, affected footfalls.

Ocean Park saw a year-on-year 15 percent fall during July to August, with the number of mainland visitors dropping the most.

Unlike in the past when people had to wait in long queues to get access to rides, visitors now found the waiting time as short as 20 minutes or even less, according to Xinhua reporters' observation.

The number of mainland tour groups visiting Hong Kong has drastically dropped this summer and most of the time only a few people were at the queue, a staff member on duty at Ocean Park's Raging River ride told Xinhua.

Hong Kong Legislative Council member Yiu Si-wing said, apart from the economic slump, anti-parallel trade protests were also to blame as they gave the impression that Hong Kong was no longer a hospitable city.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said earlier this month that he did not want to see any violence directed at tourists, and would not condone actions that hurt Hong Kong's reputation as a tourism hub.

He said tourism was important for Hong Kong, especially in creating job opportunities for many at the grassroots level, adding that the government had spared no effort in promoting Hong Kong tourism overseas and on the mainland.

Leung will visit Jakarta from Sept 16 to 18, attending promotional activities presented by the Trade Development Council and the Tourism Board of Hong Kong.

Some of the famous attractions in Hong Kong are striving to reverse the situation. Ocean Park has geared up to launch new promotions and attract visitors from emerging markets. Halloween Bash would be its signature event in October, which it expects to draw about a million visitors.

Ocean Park deputy chief executive Matthias Li Sing-chung said a string of new rides would be introduced, which could help strengthen the park's position as one of the top attractions across the region.

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