Hong Kong is one of the most important tourism destinations in the Pacific Asia region for its unique landscape and shopping convenience. According to statistics, a total number of 41921310 people visited Hong Kong in 2011, that is 16. 4% more compared to 2010 (Hong Kong Tourism Board 2012). Total tourism expenditure was 263142. 71 million HK dollars and shopping accounts for most of them because it is the main purpose for individual visitors (Hong Kong Tourism Board 2012).
Therefore, to sustain tourism prosperity while seeking development in the city, it is necessary to understand its unique geographical features and precisely examine the tourism trends. Meanwhile, analysing factors that have influenced tourism development will also contribute to the study. Besides, eco-tourism and climate issues are discussed as implications for the future
Physical and human geography
Location Hong Kong is a mountainous citylocatednearShenzhen, China.
There are four main areas in the city, including Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New territories and Outlying islands, and their area add up to 1100 square kilometres (Cullinane&Cullinane, 2003). For the reason of its unique landscape, approximately 40% of Hong Kong is built up as country parks (Cullinane&Cullinane, 2003).
The city enjoys of a population of 6. 7 million, and it is growing at a rate of one million every ten years (Cullinane&Cullinane, 2003).
For over 150 years before 1997, Hong Kong had been governed by the British administration, and it became a part of People’s Republic of Chinaonce again on July 1st, 1997 (Cullinane&Cullinane, 2003). This reunification has brought opportunities and enormous changes in Hong Kong.
Pattern of tourism
Figure 1Visitor Arrivals 2007 – 2011 (‘000) Source: (Hong Kong Tourism Board 2008, 2010, 2012) Figure 1 shows the total number of visitors to Hong Kong in every single year from 2007 to 2011.
Visitors are divided into three categories, including overnight visitors, same-day in-town visitors, and Cruise-in/Cruise-out Passengers. It is indicated in the figure that overnight visitors occupied most of the visitors. Table 1Visitor Arrivals Details by Country/Territory of Residence 2007 – 2011 (Overnight Visitors – ‘000) Source: (Hong Kong Tourism Board 2012) Table 1 shows that Mainland China has the most visitors to Hong Kong in the past five years, with an annual growth rate of approximately 15%.
Besides, Taiwan, Japan, the USA and South Korea are also generating a large number of tourists to Hong Kong, leading to tourism prosperity of the city. 2. 2. 2 Total tourism expenditure Figure 2Total Tourism Expenditure Associated to Inbound Tourism Source: (Hong Kong Tourism Board 2012) Figure 2 shows total tourism expenditure from 2007 to 2011 and the line chart presents an increasing trend. The growth rate is rather high in 2010 and 2011 as a result of the tourist boom in those years.
Factors that have influenced tourism in Hong Kong
Outbursts of infectious diseases
In 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) attacked the city of Hong Kong and led to the devastation of Hong Kong tourism. Originated in southern China, SARS was a mystery to the rest of the world until several people were infected in a hotel in Hong Kong and brought the disease back to their home country. Before understanding the danger and risk that would have been brought by SARS, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a recommendation to the world that Asia, especially areas of Hong Kong, Singapore, Mainland China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan, were not advisable destinations for tourism (McKercher& Chon 2004; Kuo et al. 008). This unprecedented announcement caused significant panic in the world, tourists were quarantined for no reason after returning to their country, breeding industry was interrupted for disinfection on chicken farms, and Asians were restricted from traveling elsewhere. The mess finally led to the crackdown of tourism in Asia, with Hong Kong suffering the most (McKercher& Chon 2004). This outburst of SARS uncovered huge hidden dangers in the world tourism system.
The governments’ over-reaction tounclear threat was nothing but rational (Mao, Ding & Lee 2010). The crisis was a lesson for the world on the relationship between tourism and crisis management, the government should act more judicious so that diseases could be effectively controlled and meanwhile, tourism does not suffer to a great extent.
Construction of city infrastructure
Since the accelerated development of infrastructure in Hong Kong in the 1990s, the number of tourists has experienced a continued increase (Poon, Yu & Ng 2001).
Tourist infrastructure mainly includes apartments or hotels for accommodation and transportation infrastructure, and the latter consists of facilities for planes, trains, ships and other modes of transportation (Gossling 2002; Khadaroo 2007, 2008). Researchers have found that the ability of a city to attract tourists is largely determined by the level of traffic infrastructure in the city (Khadaroo 2007), for the reason that rational city planningand well construction of ports could provide convenience for tourists, which leads to smooth trips.
Successful travellers are willing to recommend their tourism destinations to their friends, and this will further lead to lasting prosperity of that destination. Although most facilities in Hong Kong are relatively complete, there remain some incompletion. An example is medical facilities needed for medical tourism. Hospitals in Hong Kong provide high level healthcare services, and the government attempts to boost medical tourism in the city (Heung, Kucukusta& Song 2011). However, the lack of medical resources ends up to be the barrier which prevents tourists with medical needs from cutting edge technologies in Hong Kong.
As a result, Hong Kong failed to build its reputation as a medical tourism destination.
Outbreaks of financial crises
Hong Kong has experienced two major financial crises during past two decades, the Asian financial crisis burst out in 1997 and the world financial crisis in 2008 (Song & Lin 2010). This report mainly focuses on consequences that were brought to tourism in Hong Kong by the latter crisis. Table 1 shows that the USA, UK, Japan and Singapore are among the source markets that generate most tourists to Hong Kong.
The high market share of long-haul markets indicates that Hong Kong tourism is vulnerable to world economy and thus would be negatively influenced if something went wrong. In 2008, tourists from long-haul markets such as the USA and European countries declined by 10% and hotel rooms were less occupied than ever before (Song et al. 2011). If the tourists increasing rate before the crisis is taken into consideration, conclusions could be drawn that the financial crisis really affected tourism in Hong Kong to a great extent.
Fortunately, tourists from Mainland China were not greatly influenced by this enormous crisis and visitors continued to travel to Hong Kong. This prevented the city from tremendous losses. Nevertheless, the overall expenditures dropped in 2009 which leads to the conclusion that financial crises could impose great threats to tourism in Hong Kong (Song & Lin 2010).
Adjustments of policies towards
Mainland China After introducing the Individual Visit Scheme on July 28, 2003, citizens of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdongare allowed to apply for visas and visit Hong Kong on anindividual basis (Wu, Li & Song 2012).
The scheme was implemented forthe acceleration of tourism development in two special administrative regions in China, and it is successful according to statistical results. Statistics show that the number of tourists from the source market of Mainland China increased by 24% in 2003 compared to that of 2002, and most of the growth was contributed by individual visitors (Hong Kong Tourism Board 2012). As a matter of fact, thousands of Mainlanders have boosted into Hong Kong for the purpose of shopping and Hong Kong has become the paradise for shopping in the eyes of Mainlanders ever since (Wu, Li & Song 2012).
In order to guarantee long-term prosperity of businesses, merchants targeting Mainlanders have made adjustments regarding to shopping customs of Chinese consumers and the crucial point of the efforts is to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation (Wu, Li & Song 2012). Since tourists from Mainland China occupy approximately 60% of total tourists every year, it is important that policies towards Mainland China remain mild in the coming years to sustain tourism prosperity in Hong Kong (Hong Kong Tourism Board 2012).
Implications for the future of tourism
Sustainable tourism practices
Experience has shown that it is almost impossible to develop tourism while maintaining a clean environment at the same time. However, people have been making efforts to seek some extent of harmony and unity between the two. Hong Kong is a perfect city for the development of eco-tourism for it has a spectacular landscape, including mountains, valleys, coasts and islands (Ng & Li 2000). Hong Kong government has been successful protecting the city’s natural resources, it had the highest percentage of the park area in the worldin 2000 (Ng & Li 2000).
Besides, Hong Kong enjoys a large variety of both animal and plant species, some of which cannot be found elsewhere in the world (Ng & Li 2000). Enchanting as the scenery is in Hong Kong, eco-tourism is not a main form of tourism there. The following factors may account for this result. First of all, Hong Kong is in the sub-tropical zone, and the typical summer is so hot that people will feel uncomfortable to visit popular attractions (Ng & Li 2000). Second of all, eco-tourism destinations are usually sensitive to the number of visitors, thus, they normally have a low capacity (Ng & Li 2000).
Rational management regulations should be made to balance tourism satisfaction and the necessary visitor limitationneeded for scenic spots. Finally, more experts in guidance have to be trained to provide information of spots (Ng & Li 2000). It seems that there is still a long way to go before eventually launching a successful eco-tourism plan in Hong Kong.
How climate change will affect the pattern of tourism has long been studied. Studies have shown that as climate change will either directly or indirectly influence tourism (Chan & Lai 2012).
One of the main results of climate change is the rise in temperature. According to statistics, Hong Kong’s temperature has been surging during the past 15 years, and it is almost 5 degrees Celsius higher than 10 years ago (Chan & Lai 2012). The high temperature will definitely bring uncomforting experiences to tourists,. Thus, it is likely that potential visitors will change their destinations elsewhere. Besides, although some tourists might not consider the temperature increase itself as a crucial factor in determining their destinations, the change due to this phenomenon, such as increased travel expenses, will affect tourism ehaviour to a great extent (Chan & Lai 2012). While efforts have been made towards lowering the speed of temperature increase, the results turn out not assuring. Although climate change does not affect tourism in Hong Kong as much as that in tourism-oriented island cities, people should deal will this issue seriously before it is too late.
In conclusion, although Hong Kong has been through some hard times, the city remains potential as a tourism destination.
This report discusses the city of Hong Kong from tourism aspect. As an important city in the Pacific Asia region, Hong Kong has enjoyed a fine reputation among tourists. Its unique landscape and special location have attracted and are still attracting visitors in large scales. During the past two decades, several financial crises have imposed danger on tourism in the city to a great extent, but a few policy adjustments, especially the policy of opening up to Mainland China individual visitors, saved the industry from collapsing.
Eco-tourism could be further developed to balance economic development and environment protection, but several issues need to be solved before concrete implementation. Climate change is also a challenge that needs early planning, thus, effective efforts demand immediate attention. ?
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