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Hong Kong wants more smiles for tourists but prices and Shenzhen are better disorders, experts warn

Company posing for a community protest on the “Let’s Dash the Additional Mile” hospitality campaign beginning ceremony on the Central Executive Popularity of work in Hong Kong on June 3, 2024.

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Hong Kong is asking service employees to be more courteous and smile in a show to bag attend tourists. Nonetheless high prices and opponents from an ascending Shenzhen are better disorders, experts express.

Long revered for its luxury shopping, restaurants and nightlife, the glitzy monetary hub has but to spy visitor numbers enhance to ranges viewed forward of years of disruptions from social unrest and the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response, the Hong Kong government launched a campaign – titled “Let’s Dash the Additional Mile” – encouraging frontline workers and members of the overall public to level to very most attention-grabbing hospitality and “give a enhance to Hong Kong’s rate because the ideal tourism skedaddle back and forth build.”

Speaking at a press convention closing week, Chief Govt John Lee urged residents to be more courteous, to smile more and to “skedaddle the additional mile to promote Hong Kong’s hospitality.”

The initiative comes after files confirmed 24 million whole visitor arrivals within the most fundamental four months of the 365 days, mute at handiest 60% of the extent from the similar duration in 2019.

Even though these numbers marked a valuable raise from the outdated 365 days, experts warn that paunchy restoration faces better boundaries than grumpy Hong Kongers.

Valid buck, high prices

“One of the ideal problems for the metropolis is solely that we’re costly,” talked about Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Neighborhood, the most fundamental property proprietor and developer in Hong Kong’s iconic Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district.

Hong Kong’s forex is pegged to the U.S. buck, which has helped the metropolis’s location as a world monetary center. Nonetheless, this can moreover fabricate it costly in contrast with many other Asian economies, especially now amid high ardour charges and a solid U.S. buck.

“Tourists are finding that other areas like Shenzhen and Japan are very, very low-price in comparability,” talked about Zeman, who moreover acts as an consultant to the Hong Kong government.

This dynamic is intensely staunch for mainland Chinese language vacationers — with the Chinese language yuan depreciating enormously in opposition to the U.S. and Hong Kong bucks in fresh months.

At the similar time, Zeman talked about mainlanders are making up a bigger a part of tourists within the metropolis as other nationalities had been slower to come attend. He talked about this poses a field for native corporations as mainlanders tend to use much less as a consequence of walk preferences, shorter stays and tighter budgets amid financial troubles at dwelling.

Whereas Hong Kong’s Culture, Sports, and Tourism Bureau initiatives the number of tourists to raise this 365 days, it estimated per capita expenditure by in a single day associates to plunge to five,800 Hong Kong bucks ($742.64), down from closing 365 days’s HK$6,939, based on figures released within the 2024 funds.

LKF, a smartly-liked skedaddle back and forth build among tourists, used to be significantly arduous hit when Hong Kong’s borders had been closed proper thru the pandemic.

Whereas Zeman says many of the neighborhood’s corporations enjoy recovered strongly, there are currently some unused areas — once a rare prevalence proper thru pre-pandemic times.

Hong Kongers skedaddle away for bargains

Conversely, locals are increasingly more taking journeys to the neighboring mainland metropolis of Shenzhen, based on economist Simon Lee Siu-Po, an honorary fellow on the Asia-Pacific Institute of Commercial on the Chinese language College of Hong Kong.

“Each enjoy change into equal problems for Hong Kong,” he talked about.

Whereas the metropolis’s borders had been closed proper thru the pandemic, nearby Shenzhen persevered to set into a high-tier Chinese language metropolis, Lee talked about. And newly built high-traipse rails and a mega depraved-sea bridge enjoy made that depart more handy than ever.

Shenzhen gives a mammoth series of meals, entertainment and shopping alternate choices that can now compete with Hong Kong, talked about Lee, adding that prices for goods and products and companies within the metropolis are usually as a lot as two or three times more cost-effective.

This dynamic explains why thousands of Hong Kongers flocked to the Shenzhen border for the Easter vacation in unhurried March, leaving the monetary hub’s restaurants, bars and shopping amenities empty, based on native media.

For all the month of March, the metropolis of 7.3 million of us seen 9.3 million residents go from its passenger site site visitors alter components. Executive files shows this used to be the one-absolute top month-to-month number of exits since no lower than 1997 when the metropolis used to be handed over from British rule to Chinese language sovereignty.

Within the period in-between, handiest about 3.4 million associates entered the metropolis that similar month.

These traits enjoy taken their toll on Hong Kong corporations, with retail sales continuing to tumble as native media reports on hasty charges of restaurant closures.

In accordance to a fresh test performed by the Hong Kong Petite and Medium Enterprises Association, 70% of native diminutive and medium-sized corporations within the metropolis reported a decline in industry performance in contrast with pre-pandemic ranges.

As well to campaigns like “Let’s Dash The Additional Mile,” Hong Kong authorities enjoy moreover space aside HK$1.09 billion for citywide events like firework shows to raise tourism and spending.

Whereas the funds will attend, combating high prices and opponents from Shenzhen would require worthy more drastic efforts, talked about Lee and LKF’s Zeman.

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