‘Anywhere in Hong Kong’ can be visitor hotspot: Xia Baolong, Beijing’s top man on city affairs, urges tourism revamp amid ‘profound changes’

‘Anywhere in Hong Kong’ can be visitor hotspot: Xia Baolong, Beijing’s top man on city affairs, urges tourism revamp amid ‘profound changes’

Beijing’s top official on Hong Kong affairs has urged the local administration to revitalise its tourism offerings amid “profound changes” in the market and see every corner of the city as a potential spot to lure visitors.

Xia Baolong, the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told tourism chief Kevin Yeung Yun-hung in a meeting in Beijing that the sector must recognise “external and internal changes” that call for reinvention and the adoption of fresh policies.

He noted the city should take a “high quality” approach which drew on elements of its own character, adding that tourism development was highly important for driving economic growth and pursuing new opportunities.

“It is necessary [for the city] to build up an image that ‘anywhere in Hong Kong can serve as a tourist spot’,” Xia said in the meeting on Thursday.

“[The city must] fully explore its rich tourism resources, actively draw on successful experiences from various places, innovate ideas, optimise policies, promote participation across society, vigorously develop new tourism routes and new products, and promote warm hospitality and continuous improvement of service quality.”

Xia did not elaborate further on the external and internal changes which were driving such efforts.

“Make Hong Kong’s hallmark as the best tourism destination even shinier,” he said, reiterating Beijing’s support for the sector.

Tourism minister Yeung is on a three-day trip to the capital which wraps up on Saturday, with his schedule including the discussions with Xia, a plaque unveiling ceremony at Beijing’s Palace Museum and a visit to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The Hong Kong government is in the process of hammering out a development road map for the sector, called Tourism Blueprint 2.0., based on its 2017 vision.

Some lawmakers and industry stakeholders have said new ideas are needed amid changing visitor habits following the Covid-19 pandemic, currency pressures and the souring of Hong Kong-United States relations.

Authorities unveiled the original 2017 vision before the introduction of a national policy that called on Hong Kong to be a key player in the Greater Bay Area, an emerging economic area combining the city, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong province.

The recent Labour Day “golden week” holiday, which lasted five days in mainland China, underscored Hong Kong’s struggle to recover, with inbound trips reaching only two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels.

Officials and industry players have said visitors from the mainland, who accounted for 77 per cent of the city’s 11.22 million total tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year, are increasingly looking to enjoy experiences rather than splurge on consumer products.

Overall tourist arrivals jumped 154.3 per cent in the first quarter against the same period last year, according to the Tourism Board’s latest statistics.



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