Hong Kong’s tourism industry has clawed back 49 per cent of pre-pandemic traffic for the March 2023 period, with daily arrivals hitting 82,0000 for the same month.
This compares with a weaker 32 per cent of pre-pandemic traffic and just 16,000 daily arrivals in February 2023.
Speaking at Hong Kong Tourism Board’s (HKTB) annual Tourism Overview on March 30, executive director Dane Cheng said a major rebound would happen in 2H2023, allowing the destination to meet its arrival target of 25.8 million by the end of the year.
The event, themed, Striding Forward in a Steady Recovery, reflects HKTB’s confidence.
Cheng said: “Our estimated 26 million arrivals would equate to 40 per cent of pre-pandemic traffic. I think we may do better, but there are a lot of factors at play.”
He shared HKTB’s four strategic focuses for recovery: driving strong recovery across all travel-related sectors; strengthening Hong Kong as an event capital; developing the Greater Bay Area for tourism and multi-destination tourism; and maintaining close partnership with the trade and enhancing the service quality.
Citing an example for the fourth focus, Cheng said training is being provided to more than 1,500 tour escorts and guides, to arm them with better cultural and heritage knowledge.
More details on source market performance were provided during the market update sessions. Short-haul markets in South-east Asia has returned to 47 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers, with Thailand leading the way, followed by Singapore and the Philippines.
HKTB will conduct travel trade missions to Kuala Lumpur and Manila this May, followed by Jakarta and Bangkok in July, to deepen engagements and secure more business conversions.
The China market is expected to recover gradually for a start. The market has returned to 51 per cent of pre-pandemic traffic in March, with 64,000 visitors per day. Arrivals from Guangdong province dominate, as air access from other parts of China to Hong Kong remains limited. At press time, only 40 per cent air of pre-pandemic air capacity is back, with connections between Hong Kong and 26 Chinese cities. Before, Hong Kong had flights to 43 Chinese cities.
HKTB noted strong pent-up demand among Chinese travellers, especially those aged 20 to 39. It aims to convert same-day travellers to overnight guests via immersive travel experiences offered by new and improved attractions and infrastructures.
While HKTB chairman Pang Yiu-kai is confident in Hong Kong’s tourism recovery, he acknowledged that the journey would be progressive.
“We believed that the ramp-up period is typical in other destinations, and so are the issues faced by our travel trade. It would take time (for transportation to resume) due to lack of labour.”