July 20, 2024

Adventure Chronicles Forum

Navigating Travel Tales

Opinion | Hong Kong’s natural tourism appeal deserves a new promotional strategy

4 min read
The dynamic of the tourism industry has changed dramatically over recent years. A new generation of travellers is increasingly seeking authentic and more immersive travel experiences beyond traditional sightseeing or shopping. So, Hong Kong needs to radically change its offerings in innovative ways that reflect the new demands of travellers to make our inbound tourist market competitive.

The era of Hong Kong as a travel destination for mainland tourist to shop for luxury goods or items difficult to obtain in other parts of China is unlikely to return any time soon. High prices and online shopping have changed people’s purchasing patterns and travel behaviour.

Eric Gnock Fah, co-founder and chief operating officer of the travel service platform Klook, recently shared his views on the global travel landscape at an Insight Forum organised by the Our Hong Kong Foundation. He elaborated on how travel has been redefined, moving towards a focus on personal growth and community impact.

Hong Kong is fortunate to possess a wealth of unique attributes. Our fusion of Chinese and international cultural influences presents visitors with a captivating East-meets-West experience. Our cultural assets, such as M+, the Hong Kong Palace Museum and the internationally acclaimed Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, are a testament to our rich heritage.
Hong Kong’s natural beauty and tranquillity makes possible many outdoor activities that balance out the city’s vibrant urban cityscapes. Our highly regarded ultra-marathon and diverse array of running and trail events require more support from the government. As organisations hold successful signature events and the city hosts more mega events, we will continue to revitalise the tourism sector.
The annual fire dragon dance parade takes place in Tai Hang on September 28, 2023, after a four-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Sam Tsang

We have an endless array of tantalising food options, from traditional and affordable favourites like wonton noodles, pork buns, egg tarts and milk tea to many fine dining options.

These attributes make for a dynamic and alluring destination that caters to the diverse interests and expectations of the modern tourist. But to catch up with other destinations, we must develop new promotional strategies and innovative product offerings.

Hong Kong’s iconic neon signage has long been considered a top tourist attraction, contributing to the city’s vibrant urban character. However, these displays are now being phased out due to concerns over public safety and the need for more energy-efficient lighting. They must be preserved and showcased.

Sustainable tourism is important to today’s travellers, creating a balanced, symbiotic relationship between tourism, the environment and local communities. The objective is to foster sustainability and provide economic opportunities while preserving natural and cultural resources.

09:56

How Hong Kong lost its neon glow

How Hong Kong lost its neon glow

Our unique selling points must be bundled, tailored and promoted to specific audiences with different desires and requirements and the economic benefits must flow into local communities. Our high-cost base will continue to be a deterrent, so innovative solutions are urgently needed. New York, London and Paris are expensive, but people still visit those cities because of the experience.

The private sector and the government must work closely together to align their messaging, develop targeted marketing campaigns and come up with appropriate strategies to attract tourists from mainland China and abroad.

By leveraging data-driven insights and technological advancements, Hong Kong can provide seamless, personalised and impactful travel solutions . This should include integrating artificial intelligence with mobile apps and integrated booking platforms that provide a frictionless and tailored experience.

03:23

Mainland Chinese social media Xiaohongshu highlights unlikely tourism spots in Hong Kong

Mainland Chinese social media Xiaohongshu highlights unlikely tourism spots in Hong Kong

More people are making purchasing decisions based on reviews and recommendations from social media, digital content creators and influencers rather than relying on conventional marketing methods.
To stimulate tourism and boost cruise ship traffic, the National Immigration Administration expanded visa-free transit to 13 ports. Mainland China has also extended visa-free entry for travellers from 12 countries until the end of 2025. This trial programme allows visitors to enter without a visa for up to 15 days. As the gateway to the rest of China, we must capture a larger share of these inbound travellers.
The tourism industry has dramatically evolved, expanding into increasingly diverse domains, from health and wellness retreats to educational tours. Hong Kong is at a critical juncture, and we need to reimagine, refocus and rebrand to develop enticing offerings that appeal to this new breed of discerning tourists.

Bernard Chan is a Hong Kong businessman and former Executive Council convenor

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