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Hong Kong needs new attractions and venues
While many countries vie to attract visitation from China’s fast growing tourism market, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong faces a very different kind of problem – too many visitors coupled with not enough attractions.
Last year, Hong Kong welcomed 54.3 million, including 40.8 million visitors from mainland China, with Government reports forecasting an increase to 70 million visitors in 2017 and to 100 million in 2023 – a near doubling of arrivals in just 10 years.
Putting pressure on hotel accommodation, public transport and shopping areas, the expected 30% increase in visitors in the next three years, as residents worry about impact on public transport and shopping areas.
While activists and residents groups are calling for limits on visitor numbers, earlier this year Hong Kong Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-Po warned that the city's attractions were almost saturated, telling RTHK radio programme Accountability "the capacity of our facilities for tourists is now close to the limit.”
On the ground, Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland saw their annual attendance figures exceed six million in 2012. However, growing attendances mean queue time are increasing for their popular rides and attractions – with rides at Hong Kong Disneyland well-known for regularly have queues an hour long.
Hong Kong Disneyland set a record for daily attendance of nearly 45,000 during the 2013 Lunar New Year last year, with about 34,300 people inside the park at one time while Ocean Park recorded a highest daily attendance of 46,700 last year, with a maximum capacity at any one time of 36,300.
Both theme parks are currently expanding, with Disneyland introducing a new themed area based on the comic hero Iron Man in late 2016, preceded by a new electronic parade will be launched later this year. Ocean Park will be introducing new attractions featuring koala bears and sharks this year, and a waterpark, able to cater for a maximum of 10,500 people per day, in 2017.
Hong Kong Tourism Board Chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok believes that the city needs new attractions and events, and has already called for an expansion of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament and new events such as large-scale cycling races.
Lam explains "there are a few events, such as the Sevens and the marathon, that inspire me. These big events can attract a lot of tourists."
However, demand already exceeds supply for Sevens tickets, with Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) President Brian Stevenson seeing that the city is struggling to cope with the popularity of the event.
Stevenson believes that at least 10,000 seats need to be added to the current 40,000 capacity of the Hong Kong Stadium in order for more it to remain an attractive destination for major rugby and football events.
Stevenson has also called on the Hong Kong Government to develop a "longer-term" solution to remedy the current stadium's shortcomings, including improving its playing surface, telling the South China Morning Post "we cannot afford to look after our national stadium on a care and maintenance budget as is the case now.
"This will be our premier stadium until 2019 or 2020, and we have to find a way to make it bigger and better so that we can remain competitive on the international scene."
A feature article on Hong Kong’s need for new new attractions and venues, Hong Kong needs ..., was published in the May/June 2014 issue of Australasian Leisure Management.
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