Express Rail Link: Boon and bane for Hong Kong tourism

THE EXPRESS Rail Link railway, set to connect Hong Kong’s west Kowloon to southern Chinese cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen by 2015, may not benefit Hong Kong’s hotel industry like it would inbound tour operators and attractions.

Harbour Grand Hong Kong’s director of sales – MICE, Heidi Chen, said that better accessibility from southern Chinese cities to Hong Kong may not necessarily mean good news for hotels in the territory.

“While the increased links will mean greater traffic between the two regions, more of the mainland Chinese arrivals will just end up coming for a day trip and return at night,” she explained.

“They will not stay in Hong Kong because the hotel prices here tend to be more expensive than in Shenzhen and Guangzhou.”

Hong Kong Tourism Board’s general manager, MICE and cruise, Gilly Wong, said while it was “very hard to predict” how the new rail links would impact arrivals from mainland China, she believes that the same principle that applies to having more air links between destinations will hold true in this particular instance.

“We hope that the improved infrastructure, connections and transportation options will spur increased mainland Chinese arrivals to Hong Kong. It will also help to facilitate economic development in the region,” she said.

Kowloon-based HS Travel executive director Hazen Tang, on the other hand, thought that the new railway was a boon: “When there are good connections, it will definitely attract more people. I expect I will have booming business from China once this rail link is established.”

Ocean Park Hong Kong’s chief representative, Eastern China, Alfred Ma, was also positive, saying that the convenience of having a direct rail link would definitely result in more mainland Chinese visiting the theme park.

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