Hong Kong tourism experiences slow growth rate due to aviation setback

Hong Kong’s travel industry is currently experiencing some lag in its growth as the post-COVID bounce back rate in 2023 is ‘slower than expected’, according to top tourism experts in the country.

Foreign tourist numbers — largely from mainland China — had tripled after the government of Hong Kong launched a major tourism campaign in February 2023 to attract tourists after all covid-19 curbs had been removed. In spite of this, the expected recovery and growth rate for the industry has been deemed unsatisfactory.

Top tourism experts in the country on Monday expressed disappointment at the industry’s slow growth especially after last month’s tourism campaign, even though tourist numbers rose from 162,836 between late January and early February to 526,066 by the first week of March.

Setbacks in the country’s aviation industry have been cited as a primary cause for this slow growth.

Allan Zeman, a business owner based in Hong Kong’s Central Business District, complained that the reducing number of tourists is bad for business. “The biggest problem is no flights,” he said. “They (tourists) can’t get on an aeroplane. The airlines are the heart of international tourism.”

Zeman was however positive about improved growth and increased international visits in the latter part of this year and in 2024.

Gianna Hsu Wong Mei-lun, chairperson of the Travel Industry Council, confirmed that the industry’s growth rate was slower than projected, citing the reduced availability of flights to and from Hong Kong. On the brighter side, she noted, the government’s decision to end the compulsory use of face masks was a positive boost to the country’s tourism industry.

Wong Mei-lun expressed optimism that the industry’s growth rate will experience a sharp incline as soon as the “golden week” holiday in early May arrives.

After putting an end to all travel restrictions in December of 2022, mainland Hong Kong reopened its borders to foreign visits on January 28 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020.

The government of Hong Kong launched a tourism campaign in February this year tagged “Hello Hong Kong” in order to attract tourists and advertise Hong Kong as a top tourist destination after the three-year COVID shutdown.

The campaign included giveaways of more than 500,000 free air tickets to visitors from various countries including Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

Umar Ali
As editor in chief, I am always on the road, searching for hidden gems, undiscovered waterfalls, enticing hikes to explore, underrated delis, and more. Crafting compelling content that captures the true essence of each place is my passion. With years of experience in travel journalism, I strive to provide unbiased and factual content based on my real-life experiences. When I'm not out exploring, you can find me delving into local markets and devouring new foods, immersing myself in the cultures and communities that make each destination unique. It might sound like a tough job, but I love it!

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