Hong Kong’s a bargain these days lower than usual airfares, hotel rates

Hong Kong’s a bargain these days with lower than usual airfares, hotel rates

TORONTO — The number of Canadians visiting Hong Kong is up 3% year to date and more air capacity coming later in 2017 will boost that result even higher, says the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Executive Director Anthony Lau.

Lau is happy with all the competition in the skies, with more than a dozen airlines offering Hong Kong flights out of Vancouver and several operating the route out of Toronto. There are also a ton of flights operating to Hong Kong out of the U.S. “We are very confident with the North American market. Good airfares, good hotel rates – to me that means good growth.”

Lau says Hong Kong’s favourable hotel rates should stick around for a few years, with more inventory on the way. Currently there are 78,000 hotel rooms in Hong Kong; in a few years, that number will hit 82,000.

Hong Kong is a tourism powerhouse and lately it’s been bringing other destinations large and small along for the ride. After successful joint marketing endeavours with mainland China and Thailand, in March 2016 the Hong Kong Tourism Board announced it was teaming up with Taiwan to promote multi-destination travel to Asia. With all three add-on destinations, packages skew to city/beach, city/culture and city/heritage.

“When you take the time to come to Asia, as a long-haul traveller you want to stay a while. You need a secondary destination,” said Lau.

A year later, the HKTB says the campaign has achieved “remarkable results”, with the number of Canadians visiting Taiwan and Hong Kong during the same trip recording double-digit growth in 2016.

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB) and the HKTB will continue the partnership in 2017. There are now 19 Canadian tour operators offering joint Hong Kong – Taiwan packages, says HKTB Canada Director Michael Lim, who adds that the HKTB has been busy promoting the two-destination packages with trade fams and workshops.

There are currently over 70 direct flights a week connecting Canada to Taiwan and Hong Kong, and this is expected to increase by 21% in 2017. Taiwan and Hong Kong are linked by over 60 flights a day and are 80 minutes apart by plane. For Canadian visitors, there’s no need for a Taiwan visa for visits less than 72 hours.

Developing new product is crucial for any destination, and the Taiwan partnership is just one of many ways Hong Kong is looking to re-package itself to visitors. The city gets a 50/50 mix of first-timers and repeat arrivals. For many years now Hong Kong has promoted its shopping, and while the retail product is impressive, Lau says it will take more than Hong Kong’s famous markets and retail shops to lure modern travellers, especially younger travellers. “Shopping is a key activity but it shouldn’t be the only thing,” he says. “We need to talk more about our living culture and green tourism.” Other core strengths for the city include its unique vibe of East meets West, and dining.

Hong Kong has also rebranded a section of the Central business district as Old Town Central, with self-directed walking tour maps available for travellers looking to walk the footsteps of Hong Kong’s history. “Central is our business centre but it’s also where Hong Kong’s history started,” said Lau. “There are a lot of stories here.”

Similar efforts are underway to reimagine another half dozen areas around the city, “to create new stories”.

And what destinations could be next for joint tourism marketing initiatives? Lau said the HKTB is happy with mainland China, Thailand and Taiwan for now but down the line might look at Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia or Myanmar.

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