Hong Kong Tourism Board welcomes Year of the Horse with Appreciation Reception

TORONTO — The Hong Kong Tourism Board ushered in The Year of the Horse by hosting industry partners and media at an Appreciation Reception in downtown Toronto.

According to Gloria Lo, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO), the horse has special meaning in Chinese culture, which is why big things are expected this year between the destination and Canada.

“Hong Kong became the sixth largest export market of Canada last year and was named one of the priority markets in the Global Markets Action Plan by the Canadian Federal Government a few months ago,” she said. The comprehensive double taxation avoidance agreement signed between Hong Kong and Canada was also ratified last year.

“The agreement will provide further incentives to promote business and investment between the two places,” she added.

Lo also took the opportunity to highlight a few upcoming events in Toronto under the theme ‘Hong Kong Under Spotlight’. The Hong Kong Canada Crosscurrent Project will be launched by the Richard Charles Lee Library in the University of Toronto with the support of HKETO on Feb. 27. It is a joint academic research project by the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser Institute and the University of Hong Kong that documents the immigration between Hong Kong and Canada over the past 50 years.

Also, on May 16-17 HKETO will be organizing the Hong Kong Spirit Film Gala in conjunction with the Toronto Reel Asia International Film Festival.

Michael Lim, Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, shared the destination’s latest tourism figures, which show a slight decline among Canadian visitors. Last year, Hong Kong welcomed a total of 54,298,804 visitors, an increase of 11.7% from 2012, and of that total 354,000 were Canadian. This represents a drop of 9.8%.

On the bright side, the average length of stay for Canadians in 2013 was 4.7 nights, which puts Canadians second overall among all key markets.

To accommodate for these overnights, Lim noted that Hong Kong is set to debut 22 new hotels this year, which will bring an additional 2,700 rooms. In total, 2014 will boast a total of 248 hotels and 72,916 rooms. New properties include Ovolo, iclub by Regal Sheung Wan, Hotel sav, iclub by Regal Tin Hau and China Grand.

A number of new tours will also make their debut this year, including the ‘Sham Shui Po Foodie Tour’. Although only in operation for six months, this tour has already become a best seller, thanks to its fun mix of authentic Chinese cuisine and architectural landmarks. Also new is the ‘Different Taste of Hong Kong’, which includes a Pearl Harbor ferry cruise and a pedicab tour, ‘Hand Made in Hong Kong’, which highlights local craftsmanship and shopping, and the ‘Six Senses Heritage Experience’, which includes a tai chi class and bicycle tour.

To ensure that visitors get the most out of their stay, a new Tourist SIM Card has been introduced. It comes with bundles of mobile data, unlimited PCCW-HKT WiFi usage, unlimited local calls and preloaded credit for calls/text (texts to Canada are HK$0.45/min). A five-day pass is priced at HK$69, eight-day pass at $96 and a limited edition five-day pass at $118.

Debuting in early April will be the Hong Kong Specialist Programme for travel agents. This online training tool allows agents to learn about the destination’s latest offerings and also gives them a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong.

For more information about travel to Hong Kong, visit DiscoverHongKong.com/ca, which now welcomes 24,000 Canadian visitors per month.

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