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Mainland market to be HK tourism board target

THE Hong Kong Tourism Board is adjusting its marketing strategies to work harder on the Chinese mainland market, in addition to depending on food and wine carnivals and the East Asian Games, it said yesterday.

Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong grew 4.7 percent year on year to 29.5 million in 2008, but a detailed breakdown showed a decline of 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter due to the global financial crisis, said board chairman James Tien.

Visitors spent an average of HK$5,360 (US$687) in one visit, up 4.6 percent year on year, the board said.

Visitor arrivals from the Chinese mainland grew 8.9 percent to 16.86 million with many from the neighboring Pearl River Delta region.

Tien said that the board projected a decline of 1.6 percent in arrivals in 2009, with a growth of 4.1 percent in the mainland market and a growth of 0.4 percent in short-haul markets offset by a decline of 12.4 percent in long-hauls.

But this was a "challenging" target and the picture may get even worse amid the economic downturn, he added.

Tien said the board was adjusting its marketing strategies and spending at least half of its resources on the mainland market.

More work will be done on the mainland to explore the market beyond neighboring Guangdong Province. The board is also working harder on cruise tours and has a new department to promote Hong Kong as a convention and exhibition center.

Hong Kong is to stage an international wine fair and a food exposition in the second half of this year, and will capitalize on the East Asian Games due in Hong Kong in November, Tien said.


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