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Budget Speech 2024 Preview: Tourists want more than free tickets under costly travel

Tourists expect more favourable policies from the government than free tickets after the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign.

The themed campaign was officially launched in early February 2023. Afterwards, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced the budget plan for the campaign in his 2023 budget speech as part of an effort to lure back tourists from the world and boost the local economy.

Around 500,000 free air tickets were sent to tourists through local airlines, including Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong Express, and Hong Kong Airlines, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Sicily Chen, 35, a tourist from Shanghai, travelled to Hong Kong for five days during the Chinese New Year holiday because her husband won a free ticket from Cathay Pacific. 

The tour cost HK$18,000 in total, including accommodation, transportation, shopping, and other daily costs for Sicily Chen’s family.

Cathay Pacific offers a redemption code to the winner through email, and then tourists can choose the airplane suitable for their timetable on the website.

Sicily Chen said the most considerable portion of expenditure is hotel accommodation expenses, followed by transportation fees.

For this year’s budget speech, Sicily Chen hopes the Hong Kong Government can sell three-day or five-day transportation coupons to tourists.

“I do not expect free activities again; promotional events with discounts are good enough to attract me,” Chen said.

However, not every winner of the free tickets uses the opportunity.

Lim Changwoo, 24, a university student in South Korea, gave up coming to Hong Kong after receiving a ticket from Cathay Pacific in October 2023 due to high accommodation expenses.

“The prices are around HK$881 per night for hotels near the airport or located in the islands, and it was more expensive to live near Central,” Lim said. “If I can receive cheaper accommodations, I would be more than welcome to come.”

Hong Kong offers various attractions and cultural spots that foreign tourists can enjoy in English.

While different promotions or holding events attract tourists, it is important for the Hong Kong Government to identify and monitor the new trend to take proper promotional actions, said Chen Jinyan, 31, a Research Assistant Professor in Hotel and Tourism Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.


“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, shopping was a strong motivation for mainland tourists, but people are talking more about other cultural experiences, like West Kowloon now,” said Chen.

Chen also pointed out that the government could not regulate the high expense of hotel accommodation due to inevitable labour costs.

To alleviate the costs, Chen suggested that hotels could offer tourists a cultural experience as part of their travel packages to increase competitiveness.

“There are a lot of elements, rather than money and price,” Chen said. “For example, some people live in a Four Season hotel to experience its luxurious service. Hong Kong hotels can also bring a special experience to make tourists stay.”

According to the Census and Statistics Department, the total number of visitor arrivals in 2023 is around 33.9 million, which includes 5.2 million international visitors and 28.7 million visitors from mainland China, Taiwan, and Macao.

Hong Kong also benefited from international tourists, who chose Hong Kong as their first station for their trip because of the good international reputation and English-friendly environment, Chen added.


《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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