More Hongkong red-letter dates

25 Feb 2009

Visitors to Hongkong will enjoy more event-driven attractions this year as the territory looks for ways to keep tourist arrival numbers up despite an expected 1.6 percent decline.

“We want to raise the international profile of our many home-grown cultural and sports events to build up Hongkong’s position as the Events Capital of Asia,” said Margaret Fong, commissioner for tourism in a recent tourism overview.

The schedule includes an Asian Music Festival, coinciding with the Hongkong Tourism Board’s (HKTB) Summer Temptation programme and events created around themes like the DragonBoat, Jazz and Kung Fu. Traditional celebrations such Lunar New Year may be extended into a week-long activity.

“We are looking at holding a Food and Wine Festival around the end of October when there will be street parties in key dining districts,” said Anthony Lau, HKTB executive director. “Food is a key element. We will be releasing a food guide bundled with offers for leisure travellers.”

After much delay, groundwork for the construction of a cruise terminal, aimed at making the territory the “regional cruise hub in Asia”, has begun.

Tourism commissioner Fong remarked: “The development of an iconic cruise terminal will be a move in the right direction. Preparatory work is progressing in full steam. We will be going to the Legislative Council to obtain funding for the site formation works before the summer so that construction can start this year, with the first berth commencing operation in 2013.”

Meanwhile, HKTB is also studying how the territory can collaborate with Macau and China to create more multi-city or multi-destination programmes that proved popular with tourists last year.

“This is a great way to highlight our different cultural lifestyles,” said Lau.

For the next 12 months, HKTB expects to focus its activities to lure travellers from short-haul markets as arrivals from US and Europe are projected to be soft.

“Unlike SARS and the 9/11 events, the global economic crisis didn’t dampened the desire to travel, although people are looking for destinations closer to home,” said Lau, adding “2009 is not going to be an easy year, but we are riding the wave to create new opportunities.”

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Gigi Onag

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