HOTELS & TOURISM | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong must expand tourism infrastructure: CLSA

Along with other proposed changes.

To revitalize Hong Kong tourism, which has fallen 6% over the past two years along with Macau's tourism, improved branding and attitude are apparently needed.

According to a research note from CLSA, Hong Kong needs to convey a more welcoming image to mainlanders: some surveys say Hong Kong people are perceived to be hostile to Chinese tourists. History suggests that people will not travel to a city or country where they do not feel welcome.

Also, tourism infrastructure needs expanding. Hong Kong has a world-class airport but would benefit from more hotel rooms given its occupancy rate was 86% and its average daily rate (ADR) HK$1,337 in 2015. Border-crossing points are also running at high utilisations. The ferry terminals are efficient, but could benefit from some renovation.

Here's more from CLSA:

Victoria Harbour revamp. Victoria Harbour does not make the top-10 on the Hong Kong Tourist Board’s (HKTB) top attractions and ranks No.10 on TripAdvisor. It should be number one, but needs a significant overhaul.

We envisage improved waterfront architecture, hotels sitting directly on the water, retail and restaurant promenades, plus walking/cycling paths. An example of successful urban redevelopment is the High Line in New York, which does not boast the same inherent attractive characteristics as a harbour.

Iconic architecture would help. Hong Kong has the harbour and an iconic skyline, but lacks one or two iconic buildings such as the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the Opera House in Sydney or Big Ben in London.

These buildings become a symbol of the city and photo opportunities. Waterfront land has been reclaimed and could accommodate a building of this nature. Retail needs more diversity and lower prices. Hong Kong is perceived to be expensive and only attractive for a narrow range of products such as luxury goods, cosmetics and global fast fashion.

It would benefit from more product diversification towards mid-price points, and products that are unique to Hong Kong. The city is well known for its shopping malls and these need to increase their entertainment content.

More international sporting events. Besides the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, Hong Kong does not have any big sporting attractions. Options include F1, a leading yachting event such as the Louis Vuitton Cup; a horse-racing event such as the Melbourne Cup, Ascot or Kentucky Derby, or Masters tennis. How about Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong sharing the hosting of the Summer Olympics?

Food and dedicated areas for local cuisine. Singapore and San Francisco are examples of cities with dedicated waterfront restaurants celebrating local cuisine.

Enjoying nature. Hong Kong is known as a city of highrise office and residential buildings plus massive shopping malls for luxury goods. Yet 40% of land is zoned as national parks and contains many beautiful trails and beaches. These can be better utilised via environmentally sensitive developments such as eco-lodges. We concede that Hong Kong has a bad reputation for air and water pollution, which may be harder to address without stronger government intervention.

Arts and culture well below standards of a global city. Hong Kong brands itself as Asia’s World City, yet none of its museums place in the top-100 globally. The Art Basel, the Affordable Art fair and the art-auction market (Sotheby’s, Christies and Poly, etc) have helped Hong Kong play a more important role in arts. Cultural activities such as shows are lacking. Yet we hope that the West Kowloon Cultural District can solve some of these issues when finally completed.

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