TTN caught up with Richard Hume, director, Northern Europe and the Middle East, the Hong Kong Tourism Board for a quick one-on-one chat. Excerpts:
Can you share some annual tourist arrival figures for Hong Kong with us? What are your targets for 2007?
Overall tourist arrival figures have been fantastic with a record 23 million arrivals last year. Global target for 2006 is 27 million, but 2007 is not yet set, although generally with so much going on in Hong Kong we are confident of another successful year.
Where are the majority of the tourists coming from? What percentage of these comes from the Middle East?
The largest markets are unsurprisingly the short haul markets such as Taiwan and Japan although long haul markets such as USA, Australia and the UK are all other key markets. The percentage from the Middle East is very small but is growing rapidly and the region remains one of the highest growth markets in terms of percentage.
What new source markets are you looking at in the region?
Mainly Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
So what does Hong Kong have to offer to tourists coming from the region?
Shopping, family activities such Disneyland, Ocean Park, Ngong Ping 360, and a host of museums.
It’s the shopping that Hong Kong, like Singa-pore, is associated with. Are you looking at changing that perception?
We are not making an attempt to play down Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the world’s best shopping destinations as this is still very much the case. Also in certain markets, such as the Middle East it is a strong reason for visitors to come.
However, we will be promoting all aspects of Hong Kong and not just shopping to let people know how diverse and cosmopolitan the destination has become.
What are your offerings to travel agents in the region?
We are soon to launch our brand new online training scheme: specialistHK.com, which will give travel agents the change to brush up on their Hong Kong knowledge and keep them informed on all that Hong Kong has to offer, including new attractions.
As a tourist board we do not offer special offers, but we are working closely with the trade, including tour operators, hotels, travel agents and airlines to ensure Hong Kong remains a competitive destination for Middle East travellers.