Hong Kong receives two million plus visitors in August

MUMBAI: Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has announced that the visitor arrivals for the month of August 2004 have exceeded two million. The board claims that this feat is achieved for the first time in its history, breaking July's record of 1.99 million arrivals.

Commenting on the Sars impact, an official release says Hong Kong has already made a 'V-shaped' recovery from the impact. August's total of 2,066,469 arrivals represents an encouraging 25.6 per cent growth on the same month in 2003 - a fair benchmark of progress as for the first time since February, year-on-year comparisons are not significantly influenced by the "Sars factor", states the release.

August is always a strong month for leisure travel, coinciding with school summer holidays in many key markets, while a major attraction this year was the HKTB's Hong Kong Shopping Festival, which started in late June and continued right through July and August. Total arrivals during the Festival period reached 4.34 million and at least HK$1.5 billion worth of retail and restaurant spending was generated, the release adds.

HKTB executive director Clara Chong said that further new records could well be set in the last quarter of the year which was always considered a "peak season" for Hong Kong. "We have the China National Day 'Golden Week' coming up at the beginning of October, and expect to welcome around 400,000 Mainland visitors during that 10-day travel period," she noted. "In addition, October and November always see a lot of business traffic as many major conventions and exhibitions take place at this time. Then in December, we shall again be launching a major Hong Kong WinterFest promotion to draw family travelers from around the region."

"Nevertheless, there are still a few markets such as Japan and Taiwan that have not regained their 2002 levels," Ms Chong added. "We are making strong efforts to give Hong Kong a fresh new image in these markets with a series of trade and consumer promotions highlighting the city's lesser-known attractions."

According to the official release, arrivals have now passed the 14 million mark in the first eight months of 2004, totaling 14,069,792. This is 58.4 per cent ahead of the same period in 2003 and 35.6 per cent ahead of the 2002 figure.

India contributed 19,889 August arrivals, 24.7 per cent more than in August 2003 as the Indian travelers were attracted by special packages offered during the Hong Kong Shopping Festival. For the first eight months of 2004, total arrivals for India now stand at 161,555, 64.4 per cent ahead of the same period in 2003 and 30.7 per cent ahead of 2002.

Average occupancy rate across all categories of hotels and tourist guesthouses in August was 90 per cent, compared with 88 per cent in August 2003. Top tariff hotels averaged 85 per cent occupancy while those in the second tier reached 93 per cent.

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