DESPITE the grim economic outlook in certain source markets, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is targeting 44.2 million visitors this year, a 5.5 per cent jump over 2011. Shorthaul inbound traffic is forecasted to grow by 3.1 per cent, making up for the expected 1.9 per cent dip in longhaul numbers.
According to its 2012/2013 workplan, HKTB will continue to leverage on the Hong Kong – Asia’s World City branding, and has requested a marketing budget of HK$349.8 million (US$45 million), versus HK$351.8 million in 2011/2012.
The bureau is also seeking HK$56.2 million to fund the expansion of its Signature Events calendar, and is planning to advertise a list of potential event additions/upgrades in local newspapers to invite sponsorship from corporations. The three-year Mega Events Fund established in 2009 will also be extended for five years and receive a HK$150-million cash injection.
HKTB senior manager for event & product development, Mason Hung, said: “New elements mooted (for the events calendar) include a fishing boat parade on Victoria Harbour during the Birthday of Tin Hau Festival in May, as well as introducing a fire dragon in Victoria Park during the Mid-Autumn Festival.”
Despite being confident of realising an 11-per cent growth in MICE business, HKTB chairman James Tien said limited growth is expected for the meetings and incentive travel segments.
“Most of the MICE events for 2012 are booked well in advance. Key source markets will be mainland China, India and other shorthaul markets,” he said. “Mainland China is a big potential feeder market, and our four offices there are each staffed with a MICE representative to tap the traffic.”
Other initiatives in the works for HKTB include a revamp of its DiscoverHongKong and PartnerNet websites. Upgraded versions are set to roll out in mid-2012, with added features such as a B2B transaction platform for the trade partner portal.