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Hong Kong calling on the Arab traveller

Hong Kong ... Asia’s World City

THE Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and Al Rais Holidays brought elements of ‘Asia’s World City’ under the limelight late last year to promote the destination to Arab travellers.

A three-day promotional event was conducted at the Mirdiff City Centre, Dubai, UAE, showcasing the unique cultural and family attractions of Hong Kong.

Peter Hoslin director of Europe and New Markets, said: “We have started a fresh approach of promoting our destination in the Middle East. We have received tremendous interest from the trade business here, which grew a 40 per cent in 2013 compared to the previous year. Our tourism profile now needs a refresh and we took advantage of our visit here with our consumer promotion with Al Rais.”

Hoslin explained that the visit gave the Board an opportunity to engage with the travel trade in Dubai as well as get to understand the market and its needs. “We wanted to find out the best way to position ourselves in this market and assist the trade in helping drive traffic into Hong Kong form this region.” 

Hong Kong witnessed an increase of 13.6 per cent in tourism figures for H1 2013 from the global market, while the GCC alone showed an impressive 8.3 per cent growth. In particular, the UAE market showed the strongest growth at 20 per cent.

Hoslin said: “GCC is a key element from the Middle East for us. Our major focus is on the UAE and Saudi Arabia. We are also interested in Oman, Qatar as well as Bahrain. Turkey is a strong segment for us from the rest of the region.” The Middle East is classified in the ‘new market’ category for the Board, which has 20 key markets, and includes markets such as Russia, India, Vietnam and the Netherlands. Hong Kong’s biggest feeder market is China, while Taiwan, Japan, the US and South Korea are also key source markets.

Promoting Hong Kong: Al Rais ‘Explore & Experience’ consumer travel event held recently at the Mirdif City Centre. From right, Hoslin, Mohamed Jassim Al Rais, deputy managing director for Al Rais Holidays and Leo Fewtrell, managing partner of Gulf Reps (HKTB representatives in the Middle East)

As well as a series of fun activities for the children including Kung Fu performances and classes, mascot character and face painting, key family attractions such as Ocean Park, Hong Kong Disneyland, Ngong Ping 360, Big Bus Tours and Madame Tussauds Hong Kong were highlighted.  

The consumer event was part of the Board’s strategy to target family and young travellers.

As well as road shows and consumer events, the Board has also revamped its digital strategy. Hoslin explained: “We feel a digital strategy is something that will work very well in this market and intend to drive this more aggressively in the UAE.”

Most recently, HKTB launched an Arabic version of its award winning website DiscoverHongKong.com. The user-friendly website, which offers a wealth of helpful information on visiting Hong Kong, provides more tailored information for Arabic visitors, to create a brand-new browsing experience including finding mosques, restaurants serving halal food, shops and so on.

Hong Kong has been committing to constant infrastructure upgrades and welcoming new developments. The sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck was launched in 2011 on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre offering 360-degree views of the city. Hong Kong’s old airport reopened last year as a cruise ship terminal – Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Popular entertainment facilities such as Disney Land and Ocean Park continue to encourage visitors with new attractions. “We have also been fortunate to have a hotel industry that is constantly growing with occupancy rates at 89 per cent, adding not just hotel chains but also boutique hotels. So our hotel stock is growing nicely,” added Hoslin.

He also explained that the Board has introduced a scheme where a panel of experts select new, intriguing products each year by offering monetary and promotional support. Some of the products include a food-focus tour which allows travellers ‘to experience the vibrant Soho of Hong Kong as well as enjoy its more traditional feat’. “Another unique product is the village on stilts that highlights the traditional fishing where people can enjoy a cultural immersion.”

By Shilpa Chandran

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