Promoting Hong Kong to the rest of the world

by Wing Kei

Selina Chow, chairman, Hong Kong Tourism Board

New attractions and a tourist-friendly environment will boost the sector

The work of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) includes making sure that, while here, each visitor experiences to the full one of the world's premier travel destinations, famed for its unique historical position and its vibrant blend of East and West. However, equally important is the HKTB's role in attracting visitors from overseas in the first place and persuading them to regard Hong Kong as an essential stop on any itinerary in Asia.

"Hong Kong has multi-dimensional tourist attractions and is a magical place, which can provide fantastic experiences for sightseeing, shopping and dining," says Selina Chow Liang Shuk-Yee, chairman of the HKTB. "That is what makes the city so interesting, but we need to keep on discovering the diversity of life in Hong Kong."

Mrs Chow adds that by offering good quality services, value for money and efficient transport connections, tourists will not only enjoy their stays, but will also want to visit again. "If people have a good first impression of Hong Kong, there is high chance that they will come back", she says.

Among the HKTB's current projects are plans to boost the number of first-time and repeat visitors, the promotion of new attractions, and "converting" business visitors to view the city as an ideal destination for a family holiday. "We hope that Hong Kong will become the preferred destination in Asia; the local tourism industry is expanding fast but there is still a lot of potential for further growth," Mrs Chow says.

Great variety

In particular, she points to the cultural heritage and the countryside, which offers great opportunities for hiking excursions. These are just two of many contrasting features which contribute to the "incredible variety" available. The general proximity and ease of access make it possible to shop in a quaint street market in the morning and to be walking on a comparatively deserted beach the same afternoon. "The HKTB also plays a role in making things convenient for tourists," Mrs Chow explains. "We discover interesting places and promote them, so that visitors can get the most out of their stay. We also encourage tourists to share their feedback about Hong Kong."

In spite of the increasing number of visitors from mainland China, the HKTB has adopted a policy of maintaining a "balanced portfolio". The intention is not to put all their eggs in one basket by focusing predominantly on one major group of visitors. Instead, with a worldwide network of 14 offices and eight representatives, they are intent on spreading the message about what Hong Kong has to offer to as wide an audience as possible.

"We have a very strong marketing and sales team, which allows us to use our resources effectively and deliver information to interest different types of tourist," says Mrs Chow. "Our marketing research aims to find out what visitors want when they are here, and our exit surveys keep track of feedback on services and the quality of information provided." Using this data, the HKTB acts as a middleman to facilitate links between travel agents and tourists. This helps in the organisation of local tours, the introduction of visits to alternative attractions, and more emphasis on the general diversity of life in Hong Kong. It all adds up to a better understanding of what visitors want to experience and making their visits more enjoyable.

Friendly culture

Something else the HKTB is promoting is the need for local people to be good hosts and make Hong Kong a more welcoming city. The basic objective is to establish a culture of hospitality and make citizens realise that everyone has a role to play in creating a tourist-friendly environment. Mrs Chow suggests the importance of this cannot be underestimated. "If we do just a few small things such as smiling when we deal with tourists, it creates a good impression which is remembered and spoken about," she says.

The HKTB has also been involving different organisations and sectors of the community in tourism-related initiatives which are designed to get visitors to see different parts of the city. This has increased overall awareness about what tourists may need and reminded many businesses that not only the service sectors involving airlines, hotels and retail outlets, but also the entire community can stand to benefit from the developments of the tourism industry in a significant way.

Mrs Chow says that Hong Kong Disneyland is a great new attraction and will offer a unique experience for people visiting the theme park. "It will also help to bring in more family groups," she says, adding that the main thing about Hong Kong is that it provides a rich experience, which people have to feel for themselves and which cannot be covered in just one visit.

Hong Kong Tourism - Feeling at home

  • The HKTB's ambition is to make Hong Kong one of the world's hottest "must-visit" destinations
  • Plans are based on promoting new attractions to interest first-time and repeat visitors
  • Despite the recent surge in arrivals from the mainland, campaigns will retain a broadly international perspective
  • Detailed marketing studies help to form a better understanding of what tourists expect and most appreciate
  • Local people can contribute by always being friendly and hospitable

Taken from Career Times 21 October 2005
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