What Impact Will New Infrastructure Projects Have on Hong Kong’s Hotel Industry?

Two major infrastructural projects linking Hong Kong to other cities in the Pearl River Delta are scheduled to open this fall. Senior hotel executives voice off on the impact they will have on the city’s tourism, travel, and hotel industries in an exclusive round table discussion.

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Hotel Icon is a teaching hotel overlooking Hong Kong’s iconic VIctoria Harbour. Photo Credit: Hotel Icon.

Two major infrastructural projects are scheduled to open before year’s end, both designed to strengthen ties between Hong Kong and other cities in the Pearl River Delta: Guangzhou, Macau, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and points in between.

  • Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) – A high-speed railway line that when finished will connect Beijing, the Chinese capital, with the former British Crown Colony of Hong Kong by way Guangzhou and Shenzhen, XRL’s opening has been delayed.
  • The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HKZMB) – comprising three cable-stayed bridges, one undersea tunnel, and three artificial islands, HKZMB spans the Lingdingyang Channel. The 55-kilometre (34 mile) link was supposed to open to traffic in October 2016.  Its opening has been delayed by at least two years.

Both infrastructural projects are behind schedule, and both projects have been riddled by controversy.

The Express Rail has provoked concern in Hong Kong’s democratic camp because passengers will be able to clear both Hong Kong and Chinese border checks at a single location.

Up until now, passengers have always had to pass through customs twice, once in Hong Kong and once in China.

While the new system should prove a convenience to railway passengers, critics say that it poses a treat to Hong Kong’s much valued autonomy as Chinese laws will be enforced on Hong Kong soil for the first time.

Does this violate Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which is the former British Crown Colony’s “mini-constitution”, as critics maintain?

And just as the long awaited link is about to enter into service, another problem has cropped up. The roof of the terminal in West Kowloon has sprung leaks!

Safety Concerns

The mega-bridge project has aroused controversy of a different kind: safety.

There have been reports in the media about water leakage problems and protective concrete blocks that have drifted away.

Cost overruns and construction delays have also caused raised eyebrows in a city where projects of this nature were traditionally finished ahead of schedule – rather than behind.

The question on the mind of everyone in the travel, tourism, and hotel industries, however, is what impact these two mega-projects have will have on their respective industries.

Hong Kong currently has more than 290 hotels, with close to 80,000 rooms. Another 30 projects are scheduled to be finished before the end of 2018, with another 13 projects to follow next year.

Round Table Discussion

I interviewed top executives at five hotels or hotel groups about the opportunities the impending opening of the new bridge and the high-speed rail link will have on Hong Kong’s tourism and travel industries, paying particular attention to the hospitality sector.

We also discussed the state of Hong Kong’s hotel industry, its dependence on the mainland Chinese market, if the city is still a shopper’s paradise, the importance of theme parks, and if there is a need to diversify the city’s offerings to tourists.

Hotel Icon

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The lobby of the Hotel Icon was recently renovated. Photo Credit: Hotel Icon.

Richard Hatter – General Manager of Hotel Icon. Richard spoke with the Accidental Travel Writer about the opportunities and challenges facing the Hong Kong travel and tourism industry paying particular attention to the hospitality sector.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Can you briefly describe your hotel?

Hotel Icon is an upscale Hong Kong hotel in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui East. Hotel Icon’s 262 stylish guestrooms comprise seductive extras, including complimentary always-refilled minibars, wired and Wi-Fi internet connections, smartphones with unlimited mobile data, and an ultra-slim 40-inch Ultra High Definition LED TV.

Located on level 9, Hotel Icon’s Angsana Spa is a tranquil oasis while the harbour-facing outdoor swimming pool and fitness centre allow guests to exercise while enjoying views of Hong Kong Island’s spectacular skyline. 

What about the hotel’s food and beverage outlets?

Hotel Icon houses three restaurants: Above and Beyond Chinese restaurant, The Market, and Green.

Located on the top floor of the hotel and featuring panoramic views of Victoria Harbour, Above and Beyond provides gourmet lovers with traditional dim sum and the best of seasonal Cantonese cuisine. 

The Market on the second floor adds extra spice with a dash of variety. Inspired by the Hong Kong’s iconic wet-markets, The Market offers a wide range of top-quality Asian and international delicacies. 

Green, situated on the lobby level, provides guests with a neighbourhood café by the morning and a brasserie by the rest of the day.

Two major infrastructural projects are scheduled to open this year: the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the high-speed rail link between Kowloon and Guangzhou. What impact do you think these two projects will have on Hong Kong’s tourism and hotel industries?

With the opening of high-speed rail link, the travel time between Guangzhou and Hong Kong would more than halved from 100 to 48 minutes.

At the same time, the Express Rail Link will reduce travel time to Zhuhai from four hours to only 45 minutes, to Shanghai from 19 hours to eight hours, and to Beijing from 24 hours to just about nine hours.

Hence, those residing in Guangzhou and the surrounding areas in Guangdong province would have easier access to Hong Kong.

This will further consolidate Hong Kong’s position as a regional transport hub and create enormous economic and social benefits.

The convenience and connectivity offered by the Express Rail Link will bring significant and long-term benefits to tourism, and meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions sectors, as well as retail, catering and professional services.

As a teaching hotel, what role has Hotel Icon played in the development of Hong Kong’s hospitality industry? 

First, as part of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hotel Icon is training and developing the next generation of elite hotel managers. Through exposure to best practice, students gain a first-hand insight into the commercial realities in hospitality.

Second, Hotel Icon is touted as a Hong Kong tourism success story. With its five-star finishes, Hotel Icon has maintained its high ranking as one the top five hotels in Hong Kong on TripAdvisor ever since it opened its doors in 2011.

The hotel is managed to the highest standards of good governance to maximize profits, which are re-invested back into education.

Third, Hotel Icon is embracing its role as a globally renowned thought leader in its field, whether harnessing technology to empower its staff, advancing sustainability in unique ways, or launching conferences.

Hotel Icon is an innovation centre of excellence that is grooming new talent for the industry. We believe that travel in Asia needs both for the disruption that’s coming to our industry.

Any comments on the “state of the industry”? How did your hotel fare last year and how are things sizing up this year?

With the increase in tourist arrivals, we should once again see a strong performance this year.

Given that safety is a predominant concern while making travel decisions, many international travelers are choosing Asia instead of Europe or North America, and Hong Kong will remain as a top choice.

How important is the mainland Chinese market? Roughly what percentage of your guests are from China? What are the other key markets?

The Chinese market – especially from the Greater Bay Area in southern China – is as important as neighbouring markets such as Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan, and each makes up an average of 12% to 15% of our source market.

In terms of long haul, our key markets include the US, UK, Germany, France, Australia, and Russia.

Is Hong Kong still a “shopper’s paradise” true? Is Hong Kong too dependent on shopping? Should more be done to promote other types of tourism?

Hong Kong has remained one of the world’s most visited cities by international travelers with close to 26 million arrivals expected in 2018, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.

Apart from shopping and leisure guests, Hong Kong is widely recognized as the trade fair capital of Asia, and the city will continue to own this as a competitive edge.

Hong Kong hosts more than 110 exhibitions each year, attracting some 62,000 exhibiting companies and 5 million visitors from around the world.

Many of its events are the largest in Asia, and it is particularly renowned as a platform for facilitating China trade with the world.

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Richard Hatter, General Manager, Hotel Icon. Photo Credit: Hotel Icon.
  • Richard Hatter – General Manager of Hotel Icon. In addition to his role as GM of the hotel, Richard is Adjunct Associate Professor of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Richard previously spent 18 years with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, where he held senior corporate management positions in development and operations, including as Director of Development. He also held several general manager posts at leading Shangri-La hotels, working previously with Dusit Thani Hotels in Thailand and Gulf Hotels in the U.A.E and in luxury hotels in the United Kingdom and Tortola BVI. He began his hotel industry career in 1980.

Mandarin Oriental

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Mandarin Oriental is located in the heart of Central on Hong Kong Island. Photo Credit: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.

Pierre Barthes – General Manager, Area Vice President of Operations, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong. Pierre spoke with the Accidental Travel Writer about the opportunities and challenges facing the Hong Kong travel and tourism industry, paying particular attention of the hospitality sector.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Can you briefly describe your hotel?

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group entered Hong Kong in 1963. The Group now operates 31 hotels and eight residences [around the world].

Located in the heart of Central, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, is the epitome of contemporary luxury combined with Oriental heritage.

The Mandarin Oriental is often described as one of the world’s top hotels. What is your secret?

Delighting guests with its award-winning services and impressive facilities since 1963, the hotel’s 501 spacious rooms and suites offer magnificent views of the renowned Victoria Harbour and the city’s skyline.

Diners are spoilt for choice from the 10 individually unique restaurants and bars, which include three with Michelin-stars – Pierre, Mandarin Grill + Bar, and Man Wah.

For those seeking total relaxation, the award-winning Mandarin Spa offers a wide selection of holistic treatments, alongside an indoor swimming pool and a 24-hour fitness centre.

Meanwhile, The Mandarin Salon and Mandarin Barber offer the ultimate in urban grooming for both women and men.

As legendary as the city itself, the iconic Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, was recognized by Forbes Travel Guide with 30 Stars for six titles, the most stars for any city hotel in the world under one roof.

What impact do you think the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the high-speed rail link between Kowloon and Guangzhou will have on Hong Kong’s tourism and hospitality industries?

These two major infrastructures along with other projects will greatly improve Hong Kong’s connection to the Greater Pearl River Delta region.

Following two disappointing years, 2017 saw an increase in tourism arrival. Any comments on the “state of the industry”? How did your hotel fare last year and how are things sizing up this year?

2017 came to a successful conclusion for the city’s hospitality industry, which was a great encouragement to all.

The growth in occupancy was accompanied by raising the average daily rate (ADR) for Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong hotel market, which witnessed the highest ADR in the fourth quarter since the third quarter in 2014.

With the improving transportation infrastructure that will bring in more travelers, we anticipate the growing demand for hotel accommodation in Hong Kong to continue.

How important is the mainland Chinese market? Roughly what percentage of your guests are from China? What are the other key markets?

China is our number one source market, overtaking the United States for the first time last year. In terms of percentage, however, it is much lower than many other luxury hotels in Hong Kong as we do not want to become too dependent on any one market.

Our clientele is a mixture of domestic and inbound from regional source markets like Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Australia as well as long haul markets like Europe and the United States.

Is Hong Kong too dependent on the mainland Chinese market?  If so, what can be done to cultivate other markets?

Rising income levels in China have brought about a corresponding propensity to spend on luxury items such as travel, and Hong Kong is well placed to benefit from it.

While mainland China continues to be the main feeder market for Hong Kong, the city has seen significant growth from other markets last year including the Philippines (+13.1%), Japan (+12.6%), and South Korea (+6.8%), which is encouraging.

The rising number of flights from South Korea and Japan has helped fuel this growth, and I would hope other cities can be targeted.

As tourism is a main pillar of the economy, taking a proactive strategic view of the development of tourism in a holistic and sustainable manner would be key to further grow our sector.

Hong Kong used to be known as a “shopper’s paradise”. Is this still true? Is Hong Kong too dependent on shopping? Should more be done to promote other types of tourism?

As an international centre of trade with low taxation, Hong Kong offers an incredible variety of goods from around the world.

Tourists are spoilt for choice, whether they want the latest collection of international designer brands or creations of local designers with an Oriental touch. They will enjoy the shopping scenes from high-end shopping malls and art galleries to antiques shops and street markets.

It is undeniable that retail is an important economic sector in Hong Kong, but at the same time, the government has also been heavily promoting other aspects of Hong Kong including art, dining, sports, and entertainment.

A number of world-class events and festivals including Art Basel, Wine and Dine, Rugby Sevens, Clockenflap, and Formula E has attracted overseas visitors to come and experience Hong Kong.

Both Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland are losing money. Any comments on their importance to the city’s tourism industry?

There are many factors that play an important role in promoting tourism in a city, and theme parks are at the top of the list. To target different types of visitors, we, as a city, need to diversify our offerings from dining, nightlife, and entertainment to art, culture, and shopping.

Theme parks like Ocean Park and Disneyland are definitely major attractions to families and are important in supporting the city’s tourism industry.

There is no doubt that the opening of Shanghai Disney in 2016 coupled with the decrease in visitor arrivals the past two years impacted the Hong Kong hotel market and related industries.

Whilst one cannot influence local politics and economics, each business should always look ahead to stretch their minds to anticipate future demands in order to develop innovative approaches to gain competitive advantage.

Are there any other challenges or opportunities facing the industry?

The new infrastructure projects under development will certainly create further opportunities for the city.

Whilst trading performance should remain strong, new supply will impact hotel performance moving forward and will have a knock-on effect on the shrinking pool of qualified labour.

Notwithstanding the above, given Hong Kong Tourism’s growth mode right now, we expect Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, to continue to get its fair share of market demand leveraging on the hotel’s competitive advantage, which remains its iconic brand, enviable location, and legendary service.

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Pierre Barthes,  General Manager, Area Vice President of Operations, Mandarin Hotel, Hong Kong. Photo Credit: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.
  • Pierre Barthes – General Manager, Area Vice President of Operations, Mandarin Hotel, Hong Kong. Pierre not only leads the team at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s flagship hotel, he also oversees the operations of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, and the Mandarin Oriental, Macau. With more than 35 years of experience in the hospitality field, he has spent an extensive part of his professional career in the United States and Asia, where he has built a reputation in delivering hospitality excellence. A French native, he trained at the Hotel School of Nice in France.

Wharf Hotels

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Exterior of The Murray in Hong Kong. Photo Credit: Wharf Hotels.

Dr Jennifer Cronin – President, Wharf Hotels. Jennifer spoke with the Accidental Travel Writer about the opportunities and challenges facing the Hong Kong travel and tourism industry, paying particular attention of the hospitality sector.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Can you give me an overview of Wharf Hotels and you presence in Hong Kong?

Wharf Hotels (formerly named Marco Polo Hotels), entered Hong Kong in 1969 with the debut of Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel. Currently, there are four hotels in the group’s portfolio: Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Gateway Hotel and Prince Hotel, and the recent opening, The Murray, Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel, as the group’s new flagship Niccolo property and the latest addition to the group’s luxury contemporary chic collection.

Do you have any more hotels in the pipeline for these two markets? Do you have a target such # hotels by the year 20## (or within # years)?

We continuously explore opportunities and investments if they strategically fit with our group’s expansion plans. Currently, we have over 1,800 rooms in Hong Kong across our 4 Hong Kong-based hotels.

What impact do you think the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the high-speed rail link between Kowloon and Guangzhou will have on Hong Kong’s tourism and hospitality industries?

Two major infrastructural projects are scheduled to open this year: the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the high-speed rail link between Kowloon and Guangzhou. What impact do you think they will have on Hong Kong and Macau’s tourism and hospitality industries?

Can you comment on the “state of the industry” in Hong Kong?

Following two disappointing years, 2017 saw an increase in tourism arrival. Any comments on the “state of the industry”? How did your hotels in Hong Kong and Macau fare last year and how are things sizing up this year?

Take the group’s three hotels in Hong Kong for example, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Gateway Hong Kong and Prince Hong Kong, a hotel cluster in the mixed use development of Harbour City.

Running at 100% occupancy levels across over 1,450 of the hotels’ combined available rooms for 28 consecutive days preceding Chinese New Year, 2018 has begun with a positive start and we envisage a buoyant year ahead.

According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, 77% of visitors to Hong Kong in January 2018 were from mainland China. The commissioning of large-scale transport infrastructures such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express link is expected to fuel further tourism growth for Hong Kong and the region and can only be seen as a positive addition to Hong Kong’s transport needs.

How important is the mainland Chinese market? Roughly what percentage of your guests are from China? What are the other key markets?

Niccolo and Marco Polo Hotels have a solid presence in China.  Chinese travellers form a core geographic segment for all our hotels across the group since we are located in the entertainment and shopping precinct of Hong Kong. With the proximity of Southeast Asia, travelers from this region are also expected to be frequent guests to the hotel, and our Hong Kong-based hotels also have a sizeable international guest mix from regional, Pacific European and American markets.

Is Hong Kong too dependent on the mainland Chinese market?  If so, what can be done to cultivate other markets?

With its close trade relationship to the Mainland, China is one of Hong Kong’s key feeder markets across all industries and sectors. As a vibrant global city and a hub for international businesses, Hong Kong continues to attract travellers from across the globe.

  • As a hotel group, we cultivate other markets in different ways, including:
  • Promoting our hotels through our global sales offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Japan, London and New York;
  • Attending travel trade shows in different key cities in the world;
  • Conducting sales and media events internationally;
  • Seeking development opportunities regionally and internationally.

Hong Kong used to be known as a “shopper’s paradise”. Is this still true? Is Hong Kong too dependent on shopping? Should more be done to promote other types of tourism?

As a mature tourism destination, the Hong Kong Tourism Board has been active in promoting diverse travel experiences such as nature tours, art and gastronomy, to showcase the city’s various cultural attractions and activities.

To support March’s art month in Hong Kong, Marco Polo Hongkong once again housed the large-scale Harbour Art Fair.  Gathering over 50 emerging galleries from across Asia, with a special focus on Korean galleries this year, the Harbour Art Fair showcased an exciting variety of Asian contemporary artworks across different mediums, including photography, paintings and sculptures.

Fifty luxury guestrooms across the entire 12th floor of Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel were transformed into an exciting contemporary art space exhibiting more than 100 boldly curated pieces. Guests were able to interact with the pieces in different artistic settings.

The West Kowloon Cultural District project will also enhance the visitor experience and attract a new art and culture seeker market segment.

Are there any other challenges or opportunities facing the industry?

With Hong Kong’s unemployment rate of 3%, securing talent is one of our main challenges in the year ahead.

We have had a bumper start to 2018, which comes with dynamic and bold strategies where the team are confident in their approach whilst continuously building guest satisfaction and service standards.

It takes a strong team in synergy with each other guided by our company’s Red Ring Leadership Philosophy of living bold and staying sharp, to achieve these results.

The Red Ring Philosophy, a thought leadership programme that launched in mid 2017, navigates associates towards a more successful future and strengthens competencies aimed at leading people, delivering exceptional results, personal effectiveness and strong relationships.

The group believes when all the capabilities blend to form a cohesive mindset, the vision is crystal clear across all facets.

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Dr. Jennifer Cronin, President, Wharf Hotels. Photo Credit: Wharf Hotels.
  • Dr Jennifer Cronin – President, Wharf Hotels.  An Australian, Jennifer has an extensive career track record in hotels and hospitality throughout Asia and Australia. She has held various senior marketing and operational managerial positions in leading international hotel groups including Hyatt International and Ritz-Carlton. Jennifer was appointed President of Wharf Hotels, formerly Marco Polo Hotels in February 2016 after serving as Vice President Sales & Marketing from 2014.

New World Millennium Hong Kong

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New World Millennium Hong Kong Hotel overlooks Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline. Photo Credit: New World Millennium Hong Kong Hotel.

Rene Teuscher – General Manager of New World Millennium Hong Kong Hotel. Rene spoke with the Accidental Travel Writer about the opportunities and challenges facing the Hong Kong travel and tourism industry, paying particular attention to the hospitality sector.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Can I have a brief  description of your hotel?

A five-star landmark on the world-famous Victoria Harbour waterfront, New World Millennium Hong Kong Hotel is conveniently situated in the vibrant business and shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui East in Kowloon.

The hotel debuted on 1 July 2014 as a rebranding of the Hotel Nikko Hongkong.

The 464 rooms include 24 superior rooms, 56 deluxe rooms, 252 city view rooms, 113 harbour view rooms, and 19 suites.

There are seven dining venues, including Chinese restaurant Tao Li; Japanese restaurants Sagano and Ranzan; all-day dining at Café East; French cuisine at La Table French Brasserie; and libations and snacks at Bar on 15 and The Lounge.

What impact do you think the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the high-speed rail link between Kowloon and Guangzhou will have on Hong Kong’s tourism and hospitality industries?

These infrastructures will improve the connectivity between Hong Kong and many nearby mainland cities. We believe that this will bring a medium impact to our business.

How important is the mainland Chinese market? Roughly what percentage of your guests are from China? What are the other key markets?

China is one of the key markets to our hotel, followed by Japan, the USA, and European countries.

Is Hong Kong too dependent on the mainland Chinese market?  If so, what can be done to cultivate other markets?

Too dependent. I would suggest more international promotions

Is Hong Kong still a “shopper’s paradise”? Is Hong Kong too dependent on shopping? Should more be done to promote other types of tourism?

Hong Kong is still and attractive market for shoppers. However, this is reducing, more promotions of other attractions would be welcome

Both Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland are losing money. Any comments are their importance to the city’s tourism industry?

Other attractions need to be promoted. I believe Ocean Park and Disneyland are not major factors when deciding for Hong Kong, with the possible exception of the Chinese Market.

  • Rene Teuscher – General Manager of New World Millennium Hong Kong Hotel.

Hong Kong Disneyland

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Disney Explorers Lodge, one of three hotels at Hong Kong DIsneyland Resort. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

James Tung – Director, Travel Trade Sales, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.   James spoke with the Accidental Travel Writer about the opportunities and challenges facing the Hong Kong travel and tourism industry, paying particular attention to the hospitality sector.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Can you briefly describe the hotels that adjoin Hong Kong Disneyland?

Apart from the world-class theme park, Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) offers an ultimate resort experience with three themed hotels that offer diversified accommodation, sumptuous food and beverage, and fun recreation activities.

The three hotels include the Victorian-themed, flagship Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and the Hollywood-style Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, which were both launched when HKDL opened in 2005, and the latest exploration-themed Disney Explorers Lodge, which opened in 2017.

The addition of Disney Explorers Lodge to HKDL’s hotel portfolio has increased the total number of rooms to a whopping total of 1,750 across the resort, offering more accommodation options for a diverse range of guests, including leisure and MICE guests.

Following two disappointing years, 2017 saw an increase in tourism arrival. Any comments on the “state of the industry”?

Hong Kong tourism arrivals registered growth in 2017, and HKDL continues to have a confident market outlook. Indeed, we’ve seen a positive trend in the park’s attendance in recent months, which is aligned with Hong Kong’s overall tourism arrivals.

How did your key markets perform in 2017?

For China, HKDL recorded strong double-digit attendance growth from the Guangdong market in  fiscal 2017, which was driven by the launch of new attractions and entertainment offerings, including the Iron Man Experience in January 2017.

Hong Kong local attendance grew 6% to its second highest level ever. In fiscal 2017, local guests made up 41% of total attendance figures, while mainland and international guests accounted for 34% and 25%, respectively.

How did the hotels at Hong Kong Disneyland perform?

At the resort hotels, occupied room nights increased by 16% due to the added capacity of Disney Explorers Lodge, and overall hotel occupancy was almost 70%.

What sets Hong Kong Disneyland apart?

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (HKDL) is, and always will be, Hong Kong’s preferred theme park because Disney’s brand magic keeps our guest experience fresh and exciting for guests from around the world.

HKDL is not only a magical getaway destination for international visitors to Hong Kong, it is also a spellbinding “staycation” for Hong Kong locals and Guangdong guests, as well as memorable experience for our mainland guests. It is truly a magical, one-of-a-kind experience for every guest.

HKDL has been launching a number of exciting new offerings and seasonal events based on popular Disney movies and stories throughout the year. During HKDL’s fiscal year 2017 (October 2016 to September 2017), the park welcomed 6.2 million guests, up 3% from the previous year.

Aside from Hong Kong and mainland China, what are your key markets?

There was an increase in international attendance of 5%, reaching a record high of approximately 1.6 million international guests.

For us, this demonstrated the resort’s continued strength in attracting tourists from across Asia, especially from Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and it affirmed HKDL’s pivotal role in making Hong Kong a top family-friendly tourist destination in Asia.

Can you tell me something about the new attractions that have been launched at Hong Kong Disneyland?

At HKDL, we are constantly adding new, innovative, and immersive Disney experiences and seasonal events to encourage guests to visit the resort.

Starting in mid-March, our guests have been dazzled by the first-ever “Carnivale of Stars” with a brand-new, colourful, eight-minute “We Love Mickey!” Projection Show along Main Street, U.S.A., which uses cutting-edge visual effects and lighting.

Since March, guests have been able to swing into more fun in Adventureland at the African-style “Karibuni Marketplace” near the Theater in the Wild.

In May, a new entertainment venue in Adventureland, was launched with a lively atmosphere stage show titled “Moana: A Homecoming Celebration”, which was the first attraction of HKDL’s latest expansion.

And this summer, the park launched a brand-new Disney‧Pixar-themed “Water Play Street Party”, where some of the beloved Disney‧Pixar characters from “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story” joined more than 30 performers for a cool, water-filled summer celebration.

Guests were also been able to meet the superheroes family of “The Incredibles” before the sequel “Incredibles 2” hit HK cinemas in mid-July.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

The debut of these entertainment offerings will be followed closely by a spooky-fun visit from Jack Skellington during Halloween and an unforgettable festive Disney Christmas event.

At the same time, we will continue to strengthen promotional efforts as well as roll out innovative sales and marketing campaigns to potential markets, including enhance partnership with travel trade, online travel agents, airlines, and transportation partners in the region, and work with Hong Kong Tourism Board to promote Hong Kong as a premier travel destination in Asia.

How do you differentiate between markets in your marketing activities?

We work with partners to create diversified hotel packages for different markets to drive hotel bookings, prolong guests’ lengths of stay, and build resort destination image.

For China, we have intensified efforts in key cities, especially expanding our reach to 10 core source markets in Guangdong, with boosting consumer promotions to underscore the fact that they can easily and conveniently experience Disney magic in a city destination very close to them.

As well, a dedicated travel trade portal was launched last year to expand distribution channels in markets that are less easily reached, such as the Southeast Asian markets.

Through the one-stop platform, industry professionals can stay informed with the latest resort happenings and access to sales and marketing tools, and make online bookings for customers using the robust e-commerce functions.

We also have a terrific opportunity to capitalize on Lautau Island’s unique advantage as a gateway to Hong Kong when the bridge is operational.

In the meantime, the resort has been stepping up our marketing and promotional efforts in key markets in China and is also working with our industry partners to create tailored products which specifically taps to guests who plan to travel to Hong Kong via these two infrastructures.  

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James Tung – Director, Travel Trade Sales, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Photo Credit: Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
  • James Tung – Director, Travel Trade Sales, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. As Director, Travel Trade Sales, James  leads a team of nearly 70 Cast Members in developing and executing sales strategies across Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and international markets. James and his team manage a portfolio of contracted partners worldwide, improve the resort’s sales distribution network and deepen sales penetration with third party channels. James also collaborates with the company’s sales team in Asia Pacific to enable business opportunities and encourage growth. He has held multiple strategic roles in the tourism industry at Qantas, Dragonair (rebranded as Cathay Dragon), and the Hong Kong Tourism Board. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Canada.

Hong Kong Ocean Park

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The swimming pool at Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel. Photo Credit: Marriott International.

Not to be outdone by Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong Ocean Park – the SAR’s other major theme park – is launching  two hotels of its own as part of a massive expansion project, which will include a water park.

The 471-room Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel was scheduled to open earlier this year, but its launch has been delayed.

A second hotel, the Fullerton, will be located within the park’s boundaries between Po Chung Wan and Tai Shue Wan, where a new Water World attraction is under development. It is scheduled to open in 2020.

“This will be a milestone for Ocean Park,” says Edmond Hung Hin-wing, General Manager of Ocean Park Marriott Hotel.

“This will bring a more holistic and diverse experience to not only the tourists but also locals.”

“We expect to attract more visits and longer duration of stay. Our target is double-digit growth in visitor numbers and revenue.”

 

What Impact Will New Infrastructure Projects Have on Hong Kong’s Hotel Industry? (a Round Table Discussion) is the latest in an occasional series of Round Table Discussions with industry leaders in the global travel, tourism, and hotel sectors.

 

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