Speech at Council Meeting-Members’ Motions “Promoting the in-depth integration of culture, sports and tourism to revitalize the tourism industry”

Promoting the in-depth integration of culture, sports and tourism to revitalize the tourism industry

Deputy President, the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a catastrophic blow to the global tourism industry, and Hong Kong, as an international tourist destination, is no exception.  In 2018, the tourism sector accounted for 4.5% of our Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”), in which 257 000 people were employed, constituting 6.6% of total employment in Hong Kong.  However, by 2020, the tourism industry’s contribution to GDP plummeted to 0.4%, leading to a significant tourism workforce shift to other sectors.  While the easing of the pandemic and resumption of social activities should have benefited the tourism industry, changes in the travel habits of citizens and visitors over the past three years are posing new challenges for the industry’s future development.

A number of banking services are closely related to tourism, such as travel insurance, foreign currency exchange, and overseas credit card transactions.  I hope our tourism industry can swiftly restore its pre-pandemic status, with a view to spearheading the synchronized development of the relevant sectors.

I express my heartfelt gratitude to Mr YIU Pak-leung for moving this motion and the six other Members for proposing their amendments, which urge the Government to actively promote the sustainable and high-quality development of Hong Kong’s tourism industry.

The promotion of tourism is a crucial component in creating stronger impetus for Hong Kong’s economic growth.  The large-scale “Hello, Hong Kong” promotion campaign, launched in February, successfully attracted enthusiastic visitors from various countries and the Mainland by way of giving away 500 000 air tickets.  A series of events introduced recently, such as the “Night Vibes Hong Kong” Campaign, aimed to transform local night-time activities into regular tourist highlights and provide both local people and visitors with new travel experiences.  Events like the National Day Fireworks Display which drew over 430 000 spectators along Victoria Harbour, and the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival held at Central Harbourfront with 140 000 participants, highlighted the in-depth integration of festival culture, culinary delights and tourism.  These events are conducive to attracting visitors to return to Hong Kong.  The Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau (“CSTB”) must continue conceptualizing new ideas by way of launching significant and sizable events to sustain this trend and keep the momentum going.

The latest Policy Address emphasizes the development of signature tourism products and the transformation of the Cultural and Heritage Sites Local Tour Incentive Scheme into the Characteristic Local Tourism Incentive Scheme.  Creating more thematic tours is believed to be instrumental in showcasing Hong Kong’s the diversified cultural landscape.  Many historical buildings have already been revitalized into tourist attractions.  The former Tai O Police Station, for instance, has been transformed into a 4-star hotel, and the Central Police Station, Magistracy, and Victoria Prison, after renovation and revitalization, now serve as heritage sites and a museum of arts.  However, the key to success lies in the daily operational management after the revitalization of historical sites.  Without effective implementation of quality management practices as complementary software, these heritage sites may only become lifeless exhibits lacking vitality.

The country is also emphasizing the in-depth integration of culture and tourism to meet the increasingly qualitative, diversified, and tailor-made travel needs of the people.  Instead, visitors are no longer travelling for the sole pursuit of culinary, shopping and amusement experiences.  For that reason, we must keep on enriching the cultural content of tourism, enhancing the cultural savour of travel, leveraging tourism’s positive role in promoting cultural heritage and development and making the space of tourism a crucial platform to showcase our traditional culture.  Referring to the successful integration of local features into tourism, one should not overlook the latest trend in the Mainland, known as the Village Super League and the Village Basketball League.  The fact that using sporting events as a medium to attract visitors from various regions could revitalize and promote local culture, signature agricultural products and unique scenic spots.  This comprehensive approach has ultimately stimulated local economies.  Hong Kong could consider taking this model for reference.

According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s survey on the current trend among young visitors to Hong Kong, it is found that they prefer to participate in cultural, arts and exhibition activities or engage in large-scale music concerts and sports events.  Just now, many Members have also mentioned the fact that Hong Kong has been hosting a series of international sports events in recent weeks, namely the Hong Kong Open, the Cross Harbour Race, and the FIA World Rallycross Championship, demonstrating the atmosphere of Hong Kong as an “events capital”.  The constant hosting of such events to facilitate the organic integration of cultural, sports and tourism resources is bound to bring greater economic and social benefits to Hong Kong.  Looking ahead, Hong Kong must firmly grasp the pulse of the consumption patterns of visitors, and make use of new social media platforms for promotion purposes, such as the popular social media “Xiaohongshu” in the Mainland, with a view to evolving towards a diverse, high-value added direction of development.  Deputy President, like other industries, the tourism sector requires incessant innovation and adjustment to create new impetus for its development.

Deputy President, I support the original motion and all the amendments.  I so submit.