Time to get moving for holiday tourism

Top News | Jane Cheung Feb 15, 2018
Today sees the peak for tourist departures from Hong Kong -- five percent more than last year. About 1.3 million Hongkongers are on the move out this holiday season.

Immigration Department statistics show 1.24 million Hongkongers traveled outside the city during Lunar New Year last year.

The Travel Industry Council said yesterday this year's figures rose five percent, making the 1.3 million mark.

The council said this year the holiday is further away from Christmas so people are enthusiastic about travelling. The rosy stock market at the end of last year also helped to whet travel appetite. Even people who traveled during Christmas have joined in the trek overseas again.

EGL Tours executive director Steven Huen Kwok-chuen said the bulk of these travelers went to the mainland and northeast Asian countries.

"Japan is still the most popular destination, even though the yen has gone up recently," he said.

Huen also said the destructive earthquake that struck Hualien earlier this month did not affect sales of Taipei tours.

While South Korea is the choice of many ski lovers, Huen said some people preferred warmer countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Huen said tour prices during the holiday are about 50 to 100 percent higher than in low seasons.

"Air tickets and accommodation for an average Japan tour is around HK$5,000 during non-peak seasons but the minimum cost for the same tour during the Lunar New Year can go up to HK$10,000 or more," he said.

A five-day tour to Kyushu is the most luxurious Japan tour EGL Tour offers in the holiday, priced at HK$60,000 a head. Huen said the tour included a journey on the Seven Stars cruise train and all 14 suites on the train were fully booked by EGL.

For incoming tourists, an inbound tour organization expected numbers to be similar to last year's.

However, the number of mainland tours to Hong Kong during the Lunar New Year holiday would drop slightly to around 100 tours a day.

Travel Industry Council executive director Alice Chan Cheung Lok-yee said the tourism industry understood the government's decision to cancel the fireworks on the second day of Lunar New Year.

"I believe most of the tourists will still visit Hong Kong despite the fireworks cancellation," she said.

Chan said tourists could still enjoy the New Year parade and try lots of good food in Hong Kong.

The parade tomorrow will feature nine floats along with 25 local and international performing teams. The groups will present magic, cheerleading and march performances with music and dancing to welcome the Year of the Dog.

Most hotels are fully booked this holiday and the council expects a three to five percent rise in hotel booking this year.

The chairman of the Tourist Guest Houses Federation of Hong Kong, Sam Lau Kung-shing, said lower-priced guesthouses are almost fully booked, with prices of some rooms doubling.

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January 2019