Legislative Council Meeting – Giving full play to the edges of local tourism resources

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

President, as a traditional pillar industry of Hong Kong, the tourism industry has contributed significantly to local GDP and employment. In the aftermath of the SARS outbreak in 2003, the tourism industry has also provided an opportunity for the Hong Kong economy to break through its economic deadlock.However, as majoreconomies worldwide have implemented the qualitative easing monetary policy, the value of currency and purchasing power of various countries have changed, coupled with the fact that other complicated disputes in respect of the receiving capacity of the community have yet to be completely resolved, the number of visitor arrivals and rate of consumption growth have exhibited a downward trend in the recent two years. In fact, the development of Hong Kong’s tourism industry has already reached a crossroads. The difficulty and side effects of solely pursuing visitor arrivals and consumption growth have remarkably increased. In view of this situation, it is necessary for Hong Kong to improve services and develop new tourism products to attract target visitors. This would help prevent the continued loss of visitors from affecting the employment of practitioners in the industry and the businesses of related industries, such as retail, aviation and transport. Meanwhile, the problems of visitors mainly go to certain districts for shopping and leisure travel should also be addressed so as to avoid affecting the daily life of local residents, giving rise to social conflicts.The problems of the tourism industry to be addressed cover both tourism hardware, including public transport, hotels, local tourism and recreational facilities; as well as software, including the supply of tourism products, product quality, high shop rentals, as well as cultural differences and conflicts. It is difficult for the Government to resolve these issues simply with a conventional mindset.I strongly concur with the views expressed by Mr YIU Si-wing and other Members on the motion just now. It is necessary to collate all the resources with tourism values in Hong Kong and explore new tourist attractions with inter-departmental, inter-agency cooperation. In the face of the competition from neighbouring tourist destinations, legislation regulating the tourism industry should be reviewed afresh in line with the new global trends.   The Government and the industry are urged to adopt a multi-pronged approach by developing the traditional tourist market on the one hand, and exploring innovative tourism products to cater for the new market on the other. I am not an expert on tourism, but I have four simple visions for the development of Hong Kong’s tourism industry. First, Hong Kong should be developed into a hospitable city. All tourist destinations should be friendly to their tourists.   The Government should step up publicity and civic education to guide the public to reconstruct Hong Kong’s image as a hospitable city.   Second, Hong Kong should be developed into a cultural city by capitalizing on its long-standing characteristic as a city blending the Chinese and foreign cultures.  In addition to promoting the Chinese culture, we have also retained our past colonial flavour to cater for the interests of tourists from different places.   Third, Hong Kong should also be developed into a gourmet city. In addition to promoting Hong Kong as a city boasting delicacies from around the world, the Government should also better utilize and revitalize vacant facilities. With reference to the examples of “Dai Pai Dong” food stalls in Singapore and the night markets in Taiwan, more delicacies with Hong Kong characteristics can be developed. Lastly, Hong Kong should be developed into a shopping city. Shopping is not necessarily confined to luxury products or daily necessities; we may also promote locally produced products such as “wife cake” and mini-egg puff. The Government should crack down on the minority of shop operators who sabotage Hong Kong’s reputation as a shoppers’ paradise, including those unscrupulous operators who tried to replace catty with tael and pass fake products off as real ones. The law-breakers should be held criminally accountable in order to reconstruct Hong Kong’s reputation as a shopping centre.Those projects with good development momentum at present should continue to be promoted, such as mega events or event tourism. International sports events such as the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races, yacht races, Formula E races and rugby races can attract a large number of visitors. The selling point of these tourism events is that they can avoid conflicts arising from any overlapping of tourism resources and the community resources of the Hong Kong people, highlighting the vitality of Hong Kong’s tourism.Second, the Government should attach importance  to the development trend of family tourism, and strategically give play to the role of large-scale family tourism attractions such as the Hong Kong Disneyland and the Ocean Park. The hotels in the amusement parks should be coordinated to receive overnight visitors.   In this way, more tourists will be attracted to travel to Hong Kong and spend money with their whole family here, thereby maximizing the enjoyment of their families.Third, develop ecological tourism.   Many Members have mentioned just now that Hong Kong’s natural and ecological resources compare favourably with those of other places, and Hong Kong has become a member of the Global Geoparks Network. We have wetland and country parks which attract foreign hikers to stay and spend in Hong Kong.  The Government should step up the promotion of green travel in line with the principles of nature conservation and sustainable development, as well as improve the facilities in country parks.   This can not only diversify our homogeneous tourism products, but can also upgrade purely sightseeing tourism to in-depth tourism.Fourth, develop gourmet and cultural tourism.   The tourism resources in various districts of Hong Kong should be packaged as tourism products with local characteristics to promote gourmet and cultural experience tours.   For example, the Hakka walled villages and fishing villages in Tai O, etc. are good examples.  Tourists will get a distinctive taste when they enjoy local delicacies such as dim sum, Poon Choi (big bowl feast) and seafood in places with local characteristics.Lastly, I would like to remind the Government. As the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and other major infrastructure projects will be completed soon, we should make preparation in advance by expeditiously conducting assessments on five major areas, namely the handling capacity of control points, the capacity of tourism attractions, the receiving capacity of hotels, the passenger capacity of public transport networks  and the receiving capacity of the community and people’s livelihood. In sum, Hong Kong should turn local characteristics into tourism resources and make good use of them in order to make a breakthrough in the tourism industry.

President, I so submit.