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Managing the growth of mainland tourists in Hong Kong

Managing the growth of mainland tourists in Hong Kong






Dr John Ap, Associate Professor, PolyU’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management, was recently invited to the “Backchat” programme of RTHK Radio 3 to talk about the rapid growth of mainland tourists to Hong Kong and the possible methods to manage the situation. This issue briefly covers Dr Ap’s opinions and the full interview can be obtained from:

1. Do we have too many tourists in Hong Kong?

It’s a matter of perception. The key issue is how do we manage tourism. Tourism has both positive and negative impacts on Hong Kong. We attempt to maximize the positive impacts and minimize or avoid the negative impacts, wherever possible.

2. Some people think that the actual overall benefit of tourism to the Hong Kong economy is fairly limited. What is your view?

We have to assess the whole situation as to whether the overall benefits outweigh the costs involved, and whether the city is really benefitting from tourism. Certainly, tourism is one of the major foreign exchange earners for Hong Kong, that in turn, flows on to employment.

3. Does managing tourism mean limiting the number of tourists?

It may mean controlling the number of tourists, but this depends upon what tactics are to be used. In the case of Ocean Park, controlling the number of visitors within its carrying capacity will ensure those who visit the park can, indeed, enjoy their experience, rather than have to wait in long queues for attractions.

4. Can we limit a certain type of tourists coming into Hong Kong?

I think it is inappropriate to implement measures to limit a certain type of tourist in visiting Hong Kong. Eventually, the market is going to shift and change. Hong Kong is not going to rely on tourists from the mainland market forever. We can plan ahead and diversify our attractions to draw different kinds of visitors.

5. How can we manage our capacity for taking in tourists?

This can be done by better management and coordination of tourism within Hong Kong among the many fragmented bodies responsible for tourism. We also need more and better infrastructure and attractions. Basically, Hong Kong lacks an overall master plan or an economic strategy for tourism. The last time that Hong Kong had a tourism master plan was back in 1995.

In the past 12-18 months, Hongkongers are experiencing more directly the negative effects brought by the rapid growth of mainland tourists. The Government needs to address the concerns and feelings of residents and other stakeholders when preparing the master plan.




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