Source : asiatraveltips.com
Detailed visitor arrivals figures for September 2003 issued today by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) show that the recovery is continuing with positive year-on-year growth achieved for the second month in a row. Total September arrivals were 1,478,699, the best ever September figure and an increase of 7.9% on the same month in 2002.
The result maintains the momentum generated by the HKTB’s Global Tourism Revival Campaign, which has seen arrivals steadily rebound from the low point of 67.9% year-on-year increase in May, at the peak of the SARS outbreak.
Mainland China was once again to the fore with arrivals of 762,001, a 28.4% increase, but its share of the total diminished as other markets started to catch up. Among other markets to record positive growth for the month were Thailand (+13.3%), the Philippines (+10.1%), New Zealand (+8.5%), India (+8.1%), Singapore (+2.2%) and South Korea (+1.9%), while the United States came close to it with just a 0.2% decline - a truly remarkable comeback from the shortfall of nearly 90% seen in US arrivals at the peak of the SARS crisis in May.
HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong said that although October arrivals were expected to be even higher in number, as it is traditionally one of the peak months, the growth rate would slow down as most special offers have now finished. “With the number of Mainland visitors further boosted by the Golden Week holiday at the beginning of October, we have already recorded close to 790,000 arrivals in the first 15 days of the month,” she noted.
“There is still a lot of hard work to do in bringing all the markets back to pre-SARS levels,” Ms Chong emphasised, “especially those showing a slower recovery such as Europe and Japan. Although these markets have bounced back remarkably from their 85% to 90% declines in May, they will take some time to regain full pre-SARS levels. Now that we are rolling out our ‘Hong Kong - Live it, Love it!’ campaign in these markets, however, we hope to see the gap steadily narrowing.”
Despite the strong recovery in August and September, total arrivals remain nearly 12% down on the nine months of the year to date.
Analysis by Markets, September and January-September 2003
The 762,001 arrivals from Mainland China in September included 78,531 travelling as individuals under the new visa relaxations. This was the first full month of the scheme’s operation for residents of Guangzhou, Huizhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai who were allowed to visit Hong Kong as individuals from 20 August. This facility was further extended to residents of Beijing and Shanghai from 1 September, although the impact of these cities on September arrivals is likely to be more limited due to the lead time between the start of visa applications and journeys actually being made.
After the Mainland, the best performing market region in September was South & Southeast Asia, which recorded growth of 0.4% on the same month in 2002, with a total 149,187 arrivals. As noted, arrivals from the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand all returned to positive growth, joining India which did so in August. Arrivals from Taiwan were a modest 5.6% down at 185,448, but North Asia, with 128,045 arrivals, is proving a more difficult market to revive. Despite a return to positive growth by South Korea, arrivals from Japan remain 27.0% down compared with September 2002, resulting in an overall market shortfall of -21.2%.
While all the long-haul markets are still showing negative growth, it is now down to single digits in all cases. Arrivals from The Americas, boosted by the strong US comeback, were 3.5% down at 92,480. Europe, Africa & the Middle East recorded 8.2% negative growth with 91,056 arrivals, although all major markets improved on the August result except Germany, from where some flights to Hong Kong remain suspended. Arrivals from Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific were 4.3% down at 34,256, despite New Zealand achieving 8.5% growth.
Cumulatively, arrivals for the first nine months of 2003 now stand at 11.8% down compared with the same period in 2002, due to the four consecutive months of substantial negative growth from April to July. Arrivals from the Mainland, however, are showing positive overall growth of 19.8%. All other market regions remain in negative overall growth of between 27% and 37% for the year.
In September 2003, 39.1% of all visitors continued to other destinations on the same day as arrival, compared with 36.9% for the same month in 2002. Many of those who depart on the same day as arrival are business people from Taiwan, travelling via Hong Kong to or from other destinations in Southern China. In September, only 20.1% of all Taiwan visitors stayed for one night or longer. In contrast, 77.0% of visitors from The Americas stayed for at least one night, as did 76.8% of those from Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific, 74.3% from South & Southeast Asia and 70.2% from Europe, Africa & the Middle East.
For the first nine months of 2003 to date, 61.7% of all visitors have stayed for one night or longer, compared with 64.5% for the same period in 2002.
Average occupancy rate across all categories of hotels and tourist guest houses in September was 82%, the same as in September 2002. The encouraging performance was spread across hotels of all types, with the top tariff hotels achieving 81% occupancy and those of medium tariff recording 83%. The average achieved room rate was HK$684, the highest figure since April, although this is still 2.8% below the comparable rate for September 2002.
Cumulatively, occupancy for the first nine months of 2003 now stands at 63%, compared with 82% for the same period in 2002, while the average achieved hotel room rate is 6.5% lower at HK$636.