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 May 29, 2000
Visitor Arrivals To Hong Kong Top Million For Second Consecutive Month

 Tourism to Hong Kong has maintained its strong momentum in April with more than one million visitors recorded for the second consecutive month, according to figures released today (Monday 29 May) by the Hong Kong Tourist Association.

The 1,143,652 arrivals represented a 20.5% increase over April 1999, while the cumulative total for January-April 2000 was 4,109,768 ¡X up 15% on the same period last year.

Hotel occupancy rates for all categories of accommodation reached 85% in April compared with 80% last year.

"The continued strong growth demonstrates the improved economy in the region and the fact that incoming airfares and accommodation in Hong Kong are great value for money, particularly for short breaks and as part of multi-destination packages," said HKTA Executive Director Amy Chan.

The holidays at the beginning of April and Easter both brought in extra visitors, while the 2000 Hong Kong Film Festival and the big international shows, Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco and Chicago - The Musical, attracted their fair share of overseas audiences.

"These shows are a great asset for tourism, and confirm Hong Kong's status as the Events and Entertainment capital of Asia," said Mrs Chan.

She noted that the HKTA had organised a tour package promotion to the film festival that had attracted more than 1,000 visitors from Canada, the United States, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mainland China and Japan.

All major markets recorded healthy growth for the month. Arrivals from Indonesia were up 96.7% (24,247 visitors) on the same month last year. A new government and a stable rupiah have increased consumer confidence and a propensity for family travel during holiday periods.

Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific were up 29.9%, with the strong growth in Australia fuelled by the fly/cruise segment, partially due to a successful cruise package initiative launched there in mid-March.

Vigorous marketing and trade activities contributed to the aroused interest from the key long-haul markets of France (+5.3%) and Germany (+ 12.5%), an indication of a return to a positive travel trend towards Asia in general from Europe.

From within the Asia region, in Singapore alone (+28.8%), more than 2,000 packages were sold at the NATAS Travel Fair for March and April. Large incentive travel bookings were also observed during the holiday season. A two-week travel fair in Indonesia and a promotion by various agents also contributed to the positive performance from this market.

Airline campaigns are also reaping rewards. Cathay Pacific's exercise of its "sixth freedom" rights - an agreement between countries where the carrier can fly a specified number of passengers from one country then fly via Hong Kong to a third destination - has increased stopover traffic from India. The carrier is also actively promoting Hong Kong stopovers on other routes such as Tokyo, Seoul and Istanbul.

Philippine Airlines operated 30 additional flights to Hong Kong for the second half of April, to cope with heavier-than-usual traffic from the Philippines (34,057, +22.1%) for Holy Week and Easter and the start of the school holiday period, which extends to June.

For South Koreans (28,604, +27%), tour package prices were lower due to average 15% reductions in airfares by all carriers on the route, stimulating traffic between Seoul and Hong Kong and causing carriers to review flight frequencies. In the United States, a campaign by United Airlines offering special fares coupled with aggressive marketing by tour operators sparked brisk business.

Taiwanese took advantage of a series of six-day breaks to travel abroad (221,679, +23.7%) and increases in business, conference and exhibition travel lifted the total of arrivals from Japan to 94,447 (+22.8%).

In Mainland China (305,229, +22.6%), largescale promotional activities by the HKTA over the past few months in Wuhan (Hong Kong Expo), Tianjin (Hong Kong Food Festival ¡X Hong Kong Week) and Beijing (Hong Kong Charisma) contributed to the steady growth from Hong Kong's premier market. Hong Kong will also benefit from the 1 March decision by the Central Government to further relax outbound travel from Beijing for family-related visits to Hong Kong.

In commenting on the arrivals figures, Mrs Chan noted that more and more businesses were now drawing on the HKTA's research to help plan for the future. "Tourism involves so many aspects of the economy that managers must closely follow the profile of visitors in order to make the right decisions," she said.

One of the key research tools is the recently-published Statistical Review of Hong Kong Tourism 1999.

Mrs Chan added, "While these statistics support our future strategies in the marketplace, they also provide vital market intelligence for the travel and tourism industry and other organisations to assist in developing their short-and long-term strategies."